Severe weather hits Middle East, killing seven in Egypt

Severe weather hits Middle East, killing seven in Egypt
Severe weather swept across the Middle East on Sunday, pounding Palestine with baseball-sized hail, sending torrents of uncollected garbage through the streets of Beirut and killing seven people in Egypt.
3 min read
26 October, 2015
Torrential rains lashed Egypt's Mediterranean city of Alexandria on Sunday, killing seven people, including two children and a ship captain who was trapped in his car by floodwaters, officials said.

A man and two children were electrocuted to death when a cable from a tramway fell into a street flooded with water, the health ministry said in a statement.

And the captain of a ship drowned as he was unable to get out of his car which filled with floodwaters.

      The heavy rains washed through rubbish in Lebanon [Getty] 
A 25-year-old man was also electrocuted after he fell into a pit full of electric cables.

Local media reported that the downpour began in the early morning and quickly flooded several streets in Egypt's second city as well as the corniche.

Temperatures dropped sharply on Sunday across several governorates in Egypt, including Cairo, bringing also heavy rains and strong winds.

The Governor of Alexandria Hany al-Messeiry stepped down from his position on Sunday and an investigation has been opened by the Administrative Prosecution Authority into whether local administration were negligent in failing to prepare for the floods.

See Also: Photo gallery: Severe weather hits Middle East

The government has announced it will allocate 75 million Egyptian pounds ($9.3 million) to upgrade Alexandria's rain drainage system, which has not been upgraded in 15 years and is primarily to blame for the annual flooding.

The Alexandria flooding capped a series of crises over the past week, including the weakening of the Egyptian pound and an unusually low turnout in parliamentary elections that has raised questions about the country's political direction under President Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi.

Sisi is chairing a crisis Cabinet meeting on Monday to discuss the flooding and other pressing issues.

Lebanon: rivers of rubbish

Streets in parts of Lebanon turned into rivers of garbage on Sunday as heavy rains washed through mountains of rubbish that have piled up during a months-long waste collection crisis.

Residents and activists posted photographs and video online showing water from torrential showers carrying accumulated waste down streets in the early morning outside Beirut and beyond.

On the edge of the capital, activists from the "You Stink" campaign, which has protested the government's failure to solve the crisis, collected and sorted garbage that was washed into the Beirut river.

And elsewhere, residents and municipal workers used bulldozers to push dispersed trash back into piles after the rains stopped.

The scenes come three months into a crisis precipitated by the closure of Lebanon's largest landfill in July, and the government's failure to find an alternative.

The crisis sparked a protest movement led by the "You Stink" activist group, which brought thousands of people into the streets for several weeks of demonstrations.

The cabinet in early September approved a plan that involved finding new sites for landfills and temporarily reopening the closed Naameh site for the immediate disposal of already-accumulated waste.

But the plan has run into a series of obstacles, including the refusal of residents around Naameh to allow its re-opening and protests by people living near prospective new landfill sites.

Activists and several ministers have long warned that the arrival of winter, which often brings heavy rains to Lebanon, risked dispersing months worth of trash that has accumulated in open dumps.

"You Stink" activists wearing protective suits and facemasks sorted trash that had washed into the Beirut river from piles where it has been dumped along its banks on Sunday.

"We are proud to be 'waste workers' in this country, for trash, corruption, and the corrupt," the group wrote on its Facebook page.

It accused Lebanon's politicians of doing nothing "while the country drowns in their trash as a result of rampant, criminal corruption and inaction."