Flash floods strike Tunisia, leaving at least five dead

Flash floods strike Tunisia, leaving at least five dead
Recent floods come just one month after separate storms left several dead in the North African country.
2 min read
18 October, 2018
Flooded road after torrential rain in Tunis [Getty]

At least five people in Tunisia were killed and a further two are unaccounted for from flash flooding that has struck the North African country, the interior ministry said on Thursday.

Two died in the northwestern region of Kef and another in Grombalia in the north, ministry spokesperson Sofiene Zaag told AFP.

On Wednesday a six-year-old child drowned in Sidi Bouzid in central Tunisia and a 40-year-old man was swept away by a seasonal river in the neighbouring province of Kasserine, the ministry said.

One person has been missing since Wednesday in Kasserine and another in Zaghouan in northeastern Tunisia, Zaag added.

The drownings come less than a month after torrential rains killed at least five people in the northeastern region of Cap Bon.

Water levels rose on Thursday in several cities, including Tunis and its outskirts, where most schools were closed.

Some commuters parked their cars and took off their shoes as they navigated flooded streets to reach workplaces in the capital.

In some areas, floodwaters rose to nearly two metres deep during the night, devastating homes and shops.

In Mhamdia, a township nine miles south of Tunis, families spent Wednesday night on the roofs of their homes to escape the floods.

People have lashed out at authorities for failing to maintain drainage systems or clear rubbish from seasonal riverbeds, despite frequent heavy rains in the autumn.

Schools remained closed in several areas including Kasserine and Sidi Bouzid, the cradle of Tunisia's revolution sparked by the December 2010 self-immolation of a fruit seller in protest at police harassment.

The interior ministry urged drivers to take care, as numerous roads across the country are impassable.

Last month, a separate storm dumped 200 millimetres (7.9 inches) of rain on Nabeul and up to 225 millimetres in the city of Beni Khalled, in the peninsula's centre, according to Tunisia's National Institute of Meteorology.

It was the heaviest rainfall since the institute began keeping records in 1995, it said, adding that it had issued a warning about the storms on Friday.

Experts say climate change is driving the increase in flash flooding seen in Tunisia. 

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