March 19, 2016 / 12:38 PM / 2 years ago

Lorries begin moving Beirut's mountains of trash to landfill: council

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Lorries began taking mountains of rubbish that have piled up in Beirut to a landfill site on Saturday under a plan the government approved to solve the seven-month garbage crisis, the body helping oversee disposal said.

A general view shows a garbage-filled area in Beirut, Lebanon December 22, 2015. Lebanon's cabinet on Monday agreed to export the country's waste in a move that could end a crisis that led to a wave of protests and threatened the downfall of the government. REUTERS/Aziz Taher

The crisis, which began last July when the same Naameh landfill south of Beirut was closed with no plan in place for an alternative, has caused widespread protests against the dysfunctional state and raised concerns for public health.

Under the plan agreed on March 12, two landfills will be established near Beirut, and the Naameh landfill is being reopened for two months to receive garbage.

The Council for Reconstruction and Development said in a statement carried by the National News Agency that trucks had begun to enter Naameh. Preparations were still underway to open the new landfills, it said.

The government had been working on a plan to export the garbage. But this was scrapped last month because the firm chosen failed to obtain documents showing that Russia, the intended destination, had agreed to accept it.

The Lebanese cabinet has struggled to take even basic decisions due to political conflict among the rival parties represented in it.

Political deadlock has also left the country without a president for nearly two years.

Reporting by John Davison; Editing by Ros Russell

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