Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

FRANCE IN FOCUS

French education: Reinventing the idea of school

Read more

FRENCH CONNECTIONS

Frogs legs and brains? The French food hard to stomach

Read more

#TECH 24

Station F: Putting Paris on the global tech map

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Davos 2017: 'I believe in the power of entrepreneurs to change the world'

Read more

#THE 51%

Equality in the boardroom: French law requires large firms to have 40% women on boards

Read more

FASHION

Men's fashion: Winter 2017/2018 collections shake up gender barriers

Read more

ENCORE!

Turkish writer Aslı Erdoğan speaks out about her time behind bars

Read more

REVISITED

Video: Threat of economic crisis still looms in Zimbabwe

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

DAVOS 2017: Has the bubble burst?

Read more

Birds circling trash threaten Beirut flights: minister

© AFP/File | Local media reported that on January 10, 2017, a plane belonging to national carrier Middle East Airlines encountered a large flock of birds as it landed at the Beirut airport, seen in March 2016

BEIRUT (AFP) - 

Flights in and out of Lebanon's Beirut airport are at risk because of the large number of birds flying over a nearby garbage dump, the country's transport minister said Wednesday.

"Today we face an emergency... we recognise that there is a danger posed to civil aviation movement by the birds," Yusef Fenianos said after a meeting with Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

"The presence of the Costa Brava dump has contributed to the increasing number of birds," the minister said, according to a statement released by Hariri's office after the meeting.

The Costa Brava dump was created in March 2016, as one of three "temporary" dumps intended to provide an interim solution to the closure of the main landfill receiving waste from Beirut.

Under a government plan intended to end the crisis caused by the landfill's closure, the dumps were eventually intended to have waste processing facilities, but that has not happened.

As a result, garbage has piled up in Costa Brava, on the coastline close to the runways at Beirut's international airport, reaching nine metres in some places and wafting foul odours nearby.

Environmentalists have for months warned that the dump is attracting rodents and increasing numbers of birds, posing potential risk for aviation.

In August, the Lebanese pilots' union warned of the possibility of the birds being sucked into airplane engines.

"Thank God, up until now, the flights have not encountered any real danger," said Fenianos, who is also minister of public works.

He said the problem was being tackled by an increase in the number of devices installed around the airport emitting bird of prey calls in order to scare away the nuisance birds.

But the activist movement "You Stink", launched to protest government inaction during the height of the garbage crisis, mocked the measures.

"What are you waiting for to close Costa Brava... for a plane to crash or an international decision to shut the airport," they wrote on Facebook.

"The solution is not to scare the birds away," they said, urging the dump be closed.

Local media reported that on Tuesday a plane belonging to national carrier Middle East Airlines encountered a large flock of birds as it landed on the airport's west runway, prompting concern.

A permanent solution for the waste produced by Beirut and its surroundings has yet to be found, months after the Naameh landfill was shuttered and garbage began piling up on the capital's streets.

The issue is one of many outstanding challenges that remain to be resolved by Lebanon's new government, formed on December 18 after some two years of political paralysis.

© 2017 AFP