French and Lebanese soldiers cleared 8,000 tonnes of steel and concrete equivalent to the weight of the Eiffel Tower from Beirut port which was devastated by a monster blast, an officer said Wednesday.
Efforts have focused recently on clearing the parts of the port worst affected by the massive August 4 explosion that ripped across swathes of Beirut and killed more than 180 people.
"It took me four days to clear 8,000 tonnes of concrete and steel," said Lieutenant Paulin, a French officer coordinating clearing operations at the port.
"8,000 tonnes since we got here five days ago, that's the equivalent of the weight of the Eiffel Tower," said Paulin, who belongs to a French civil engineering regiment.
The Tonnerre, a huge French amphibious helicopter carrier, arrived in Beirut earlier in August with dozens of trucks and heavy machinery to clear the debris.
The blast, one of the largest in recent history, levelled entire sectors of the port, created a 43-metre-deep crater that was covered by the sea, and sent a shockwave that damaged property and wounded people several miles away.
Colonel Yusef Haidar of the Lebanese army said the port, on which the country usually relies for around 90 percent of its imports, was currently operating at almost half of its capacity.
"Last week, it was 30 percent, today we're talking around 45 percent," he said during a news conference inside the port.
Three weeks after the blast, which was widely blamed on negligence by the Lebanese state, the port was still a sea of wrecked cars, mangled containers and collapsed warehouses.
French and Lebanese soldiers could be seen salvaging goods and sorting them in such a way that traders and insurance experts can visit and make loss assessments in the coming days.