Ras Baal­beck flood­ing leaves one dead, dam­ages build­ings

The Daily Star (Lebanon) - - LEBANON -

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.

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