Berri calls for speedy dam­age as­sess­ments in Ras Baal­beck

Son of woman killed in se­vere flood­ing says death due to neg­li­gence

The Daily Star (Lebanon) - - LEBANON -

BEIRUT: Speaker Nabih Berri Thurs­day called for speedy dam­age as­sess­ments in Ras Baal­beck fol­low­ing se­vere flood­ing the pre­vi­ous day.

Berri pushed for eval­u­a­tions to move quickly so that res­i­dents could be com­pen­sated if their prop­erty or crops were de­stroyed. The speaker’s com­ments came af­ter a tele­phone call with Higher Re­lief Com­mit­tee head Maj. Gen. Mo­ham­mad Kheir, a state­ment from his of­fice said.

A woman in her 70s was a vic­tim of the flood­ing. Shahira Blaais re­port­edly drowned af­ter flood­wa­ters passed through her home.

Speak­ing to lo­cal me­dia out­let LBC, the vic­tim’s son said that while floods have hit the area reg­u­larly for the past five years, “for my mother to die in her own home ... that is due to neg­li­gence.”

“They called her a mar­tyr. But a mar­tyr for what? I don’t know. Maybe the mar­tyr of neg­li­gence.”

The floods dam­aged at least 40 houses and dozens of cars in Ras Baal­beck and the nearby towns of Al-Qaa and Ar­sal.

In a me­dia con­fer­ence held in Ras Baal­beck, care­taker En­ergy Min­is­ter Ce­sar Abi Khalil said the re­pairs nec­es­sary to re­store elec­tric­ity in the area were com­pleted at 11 a.m. Thurs­day, re­cov­er­ing net­work dam­ages re­sult­ing from the floods.

Dur­ing an ear­lier meet­ing with Baal­beck-Her­mel Gov. Bashir Khodor, Kheir and other con­cerned par­ties reached an agree­ment to re­build walls that would pre­vent floods in Ras Baal­beck and di­vert the riverbed, Abi Khalil said.

Build­ing reser­voirs or con­struct­ing a dam are also be­ing con­sid­ered, Abi Khalil said, adding that he pre­ferred the for­mer op­tion over the lat­ter.

A dis­as­ter man­age­ment del­e­ga­tion from the prime min­is­ter’s of­fice also vis­ited Ras Baal­beck. Headed by the dis­as­ter man­age­ment project’s di­rec­tor Zahi Chahine, the del­e­ga­tion in­spected the area and met with a UNDP Dis­as­ter Risk Man­age­ment com­mit­tee in Baal­beck-Her­mel to dis­cuss so­lu­tions to se­vere flood­ing. Mu­nic­i­pal­ity rep­re­sen­ta­tives also at­tended the meet­ing, the state-run Na­tional News Agency re­ported.

The dis­as­ter man­age­ment del­e­ga­tion met with Khodor at noon.

The group’s visit came af­ter pre­mier-des­ig­nate Saad Hariri con­tacted au­thor­i­ties Wed­nes­day and made a re­quest from Moscow, where he met Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin and Thurs­day at­tended the open­ing match of the World Cup, to launch a “rapid in­ves­ti­ga­tion” into the flood­ing.

When the floods swept the area, Pres­i­dent Michel Aoun was briefed by Kheir on ef­forts to un­block the area’s storm drains and as­sess the dam­age while se­cur­ing lodg­ing for res­i­dents whose homes were badly af­fected. –

Abi Khalil checks the flood dam­age in Ras Baal­beck. He said re­pairs to re­store elec­tric­ity in the area had been com­pleted Thurs­day morn­ing.

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