Ras Baalbeck flooding leaves one dead, damages buildings
BEIRUT: A woman died Wednesday as a result of flooding from torrential rains that swept through her home in the town of Ras Baalbeck, local media reported.
The state-run National News Agency identified the victim, who was said to have been in her seventies, as Shahira Blaais.
She reportedly died from drowning after floodwaters passed through her home, knocking out its back wall. The same floods damaged at least 40 houses and dozens of cars, including in the nearby towns of Al-Qaa and Arsal.
Meanwhile, Lebanon’s political leaders contacted relief authorities Wednesday evening, asking for immediate aid to be dispatched to local residents and for the damage to be assessed so compensation can be paid to those affected.
President Michel Aoun was briefed by Higher Relief Committee head Maj. Gen. Mohammad Kheir on efforts to unblock storm drains in the Ras Baalbeck area and assess damages while securing lodging for those residents whose homes were heavily impacted. Aoun also spoke with Lebanese Red Cross director Dr. Antoine Zoghbi on the work of the ambulance teams that were helping those in the affected area. The Red Cross dispatched five ambulances with 20 medical personnel.
Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri also contacted authorities on the issue from Moscow, where he is set to attend the opening match of the football World Cup Thursday.
Hariri called on the committee to conduct a “rapid investigation” into the flooding, according to a statement from his office.
Local media showed local residents complaining that infrastructure was already poor, which they said worsened the impact of the storms. Concrete storm drains were unable to cope with the volume of water.
The mayor of Ras Baalbeck could not be reached for comment before this article went to print. The floods came as thunderstorms swept the Bekaa Valley and eastern areas in an unusual bout of stormy June weather. Sunny weather is expected over the weekend, while rainfall is predicted to return early next week.
Much of the town was coated in a thick layer of mud and debris as relief workers began to assess the damage Wednesday evening.
While rains were concentrated in the east, the state-run Water Authority of Beirut and Mount Lebanon said Wednesday they would temporarily halt the distribution of potable water in those areas in order to ensure its cleanliness due to impure rainfall in Kesrouan and Jbeil.
“The heavy rains that occurred yesterday night in different mountainous areas, especially in Kesrouan and Jbeil, led to floods and resulted in rainwater being mixed with groundwater, which is used as drinking water and distributed to citizens,” the company said, according to the NNA.
The floods also damaged at least 40 houses and dozens of cars in the Baalbeck area.