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What a load of rubbish!

A street in Jdeideh, Beirut, is filled with piles of packed garbage bags as far as the eye can see in this photo taken on Tuesday.

Six months ago, the authorities shut the main landfill site for garbage from the Lebanese capital, without providing an alternative. Since then, rubbish collection has halted and festering trash has piled up in the city streets, causing what researchers and campaigners now say is a public health emergency.

Untreated, unmanaged rubbish threatens the water supply, academics say. Hills of waste rise from makeshift dumps across the city and surrounding areas, including the banks of Beirut River just metres from where it meets the Mediterranean.

The government's solution is a plan to pay a British firm to ship waste abroad. A long-term recycling and waste management plan proposed by an expert committee late last year did not get off the ground because communities rejected proposed new landfill sites.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 25, 2016, with the headline 'What a load of rubbish!'. Print Edition | Subscribe