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SYRIA Heavy storms pound Middle East

Meteorologists say weather conditions are record-breaking

Gulf News Report
January 9, 2013
Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: A heavy storm battering the eastern Mediterranean for four days has caused death and destruction to property and crops as well as power outages in many areas. Several roads in Lebanon, Syria, Palestine and Jordan have closed while homes, as well as the Zaatari camp for Syrian refugees in Jordan, were flooded and businesses came to a halt.Power cuts were reported in Jordan and Lebanon.

The storm is expected to continue for two more days , according to forecasts on Petra and NNA. At least 46 people have been injured in 773 road accidents in Jordan in the past two days, the state-run Petra news agency said.

In Jordan, torrential rains swept through the country for a second straight day, forcing the closure of most road tunnels and gridlocking traffic, as flash floods overwhelmed the capital’s drainage system. In the north of the country relief workers distributing aid to Syrian refugees were injured in a “stampede” in a camp where hundreds of tents have been destroyed by heavy rains.

Elsewhere, refugees at the Zaatari camp on the border with Syria “started to push each other as they ran towards aid workers. They hurled stones at each other and there was a stampede” that injured several workers, Anmar Hmud, a government spokesman, told AFP.

“At least one of the aid workers was taken to hospital,” he added. The incident occurred as aid workers were helping some of the 62,000 Syrians sheltering in the camp, where two days of heavy rains have destroyed hundreds of tents.

In Lebanon, the Ghadir River burst its banks, flooding into a nearby Beirut suburb. Lebanese posted pictures on social media of rainwater submerging cars, leading one policeman to move around on a jet ski.

Lebanese Economy Minister Nicolas Nahhas said the damage in the country reflected the government’s failure to deal with the “weak” infrastructure. On Monday, a six-month-old baby was swept away when a flash flood hit a Bedouin encampment. Roads in Beirut were flooded and schools were closed nationwide Wednesday.

The Damascus-Beirut road was forced to shut and rains caused widespread damage to farmland. “Lebanon hasn’t seen a storm like this in a dozen years,” said Abdel Karim Damaj, a weather expert at Beirut’s international airport. In neighboring Syria, the meteorologist office predicted abundant rainfall for the next two days, as heavy rains and wind hit several parts of the country, and a buildup of snowfall in Damascus made some roads unusable, the interior ministry said.

In Palestine, two women traveling from Tulkarm to Nablus were found dead as a result of the storm. A man was also killed and two others injured after their car was swept away by heavy rain in the West Bank town of Attil.

In Egypt, the port of Alexandria was closed for a third day in a row as a precaution, as high winds battered the Mediterranean city after torrential rains caused power cuts. Further west, 10 fishermen were reported missing off the coast of the desert town of Marsa Matruh, and searches to find them were being hampered by the weather conditions, local media reported.

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