Severe weather sweeps Mideast, 6 dead in Egypt

AP News
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Posted: Oct 25, 2015 8:55 AM
Severe weather sweeps Mideast, 6 dead in Egypt

CAIRO (AP) — Severe weather swept across the Middle East on Sunday, pounding Israel with baseball-sized hail, sending torrents of uncollected garbage through the streets of Beirut and killing six people in Egypt, five of whom were electrocuted by a fallen power cable.

The cable from a tramway in the coastal city of Alexandria landed in streets flooded with water, electrocuting the five, senior health official Magdy Hegazy said. He said a sixth person, a judge, drowned when he was trapped in his car by the floodwaters.

State news agency MENA reported heavy rains in several other Egyptian governorates, with authorities closing the port of Ain Sokhna near the southern end of the Suez Canal due to high winds and waves.

President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi ordered the government to provide aid to the hard-hit Alexandria area, while sandstorms and flash floods hit parts of the Sinai Peninsula. Cairo was also hit by a rare rainstorm.

In neighboring Israel, high winds knocked over cranes while hail the size of baseballs struck cities across the country.

Israeli police said they had received reports that one of the cranes struck a man, although his condition was unknown. Elsewhere, trees were knocked down, including one that hit a bus, seriously injuring a passenger.

Israeli media reported wind speeds of 100 kilometers (62 miles) per hour. Rain is expected to continue into Monday.

Israeli media aired footage of a crane collapsing in central Tel Aviv, cars squashed by trees and pedestrians seeking shelter from the hail.

In Lebanon, meanwhile, heavy rains caused floodwaters to mix with mounds of uncollected garbage, raising public health concerns.

The country has been in the grip of a monthslong trash crisis caused by the government shutting down the city's main landfill without finding an alternative. The crisis has ignited mass protests against the government, which has failed to provide a number of basic services and is widely seen as corrupt and dysfunctional.

Activists from the You Stink movement, which has been leading the protests, shared videos on their Facebook page of plastic trash bags and other garbage floating down a narrow street lined with cars. The Beirut river, where garbage had been piling up on the banks for months, resembled an open sewer. Activists volunteered to help clean it, which could revive the anti-government campaign.