High school pupil dies in ceiling collapse at Tripoli school

Lebanon's economic crisis has hindered the state's ability to provide basic goods and services, while its public institutions are in a dire state of neglect

Many of the buildings around Bab al Tabbaneh and Jabal Mohsen in Tripoli, Lebanon, have been severely damaged by bouts of sectarian violence between the two neighbourhoods over the years. Olivia Cuthbert for The National
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A high school student was killed on Wednesday, and another injured, in Lebanon’s northern city of Tripoli after the partial collapse of a classroom ceiling.

The incident occurred at the American Public School in Tripoli’s Jabal Mohsen neighbourhood, Lebanon’s state news agency reported, killing 16-year-old Maggie Mahmoud.

Photos of the classroom on social media showed a large stone pillar had fallen from the ceiling and onto her desk.

It remains unclear why the ceiling collapsed. The National was unable to reach the school for comment.

Tripoli is one of the most impoverished cities in a country where more than two-thirds of the population lives in poverty, due to a prolonged economic crisis that began in 2019.

The Lebanese state has been increasingly unable to provide even basic goods and services – such as electricity and water – to its population and its public institutions are in a state of near-collapse.

Public schools are in a state of neglect, with teachers often on strike for salaries and little to no money available for the institutions’ maintenance costs.

Many Lebanese expressed incredulity and outrage on social media upon hearing the news of the student’s death, blaming Lebanon’s leaders for the neglect and mismanagement widely attributed to the nation’s collapse.

The north of Lebanon, from Tripoli to Akkar, is colloquially referred to as "the forgotten north", an allusion to the decades of economic neglect and isolation the region has suffered.

Youssef Fawzi Azzam, head of the Building Safety Network, said in a statement carried by state media that his network had documented since 2017 more than 100 schools throughout the nation that need immediate restoration.

He called on the necessity of conducting immediate field surveys in older schools.

Updated: November 02, 2022, 3:12 PM