Four killed in torrential Tunisia rains

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A picture taken on September 23, 2018, in the Tunisian coastal town of Nabeul shows debris filled streets in the town center following deadly flash flooding. (AFP)
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A picture taken on September 23, 2018, in the Tunisian coastal governante of Nabeul shows a people standing in a muddy street following deadly flash flooding in the town of Bir Challouf. (AFP)
Updated 23 September 2018
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Four killed in torrential Tunisia rains

NABEUL, Tunisia: Flash floods in Tunisia’s Cap Bon peninsula have killed at least four people, authorities said Sunday, as surging waters caused by heavy rains carried away homes, cars and chunks of road.
Among the four dead were two sisters, swept away as they left work at a factory in Bou Argoub, 45 kilometers southeast of the capital, the interior ministry said.
A 60-year-old man drowned near the town of Takilsa and another man was found dead in Bir Bouregba, close to the town of Hammamet, ministry spokesman Sofiene Zaag told AFP.
Saturday’s storm caused water levels in some areas to rise as much as 1.7 meters (5.6 feet), as bridges and roads were damaged in record rains that dropped the equivalent of nearly six months of average precipitation.
“It was raining since noon and (in the afternoon) it became torrential. The water flooded over the bridge and onto the road,” Moncef Barouni, a resident in the coastal town of Nabeul, told AFP.
In just minutes, “the water swept away the fence, then the boiler room, the summer kitchen and a part of the house,” he said.
“I was scared for my life.”
The storm dumped 200 millimeters (7.9 inches) of rain on Nabeul and up to 225 millimeters in the city of Beni Khalled, in the peninsula’s center, according to Tunisia’s National Institute of Meteorology.
It was the heaviest rainfall since the institute began keeping a record in 1995, the institute said, adding that it had issued a warning about the storms on Friday.
Videos posted to social networks showed surging waters carrying cars and pieces of road in the north of the peninsula.
Tunisian authorities said they had dispatched police, army and rescue teams to the region on Saturday afternoon, in addition to mobilizing ambulances and two helicopters.
Authorities also took preventative measures in the Sahel region further south in anticipation of further rains, but by Sunday they appeared to have subsided.
The sun was out Sunday and receding water levels meant most of the area’s roads were passable by car, Zaag said, although the region’s telephone networks were still largely out of service.
Severe thunderstorms have hit the North African country since the middle of last week, flooding roads and damaging property, sparking anger against the authorities for allegedly failing to maintain drainage systems.


Syria media says no attack on airport after reported air defense fire

Syrian pro-government forces hold a position near the village of al-Malihah, in the northern countryside of Deir Ezzor, on September 9, 2017, during the ongoing battle against Daesh group. (AFP)
Updated 10 December 2018
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Syria media says no attack on airport after reported air defense fire

  • The accidental downing of a Russian transport aircraft by Syrian ground batteries during an Israel air strike on September 17 killed 15 service personnel

DAMASCUS: Syrian state media said Sunday that air defenses had opened fire near Damascus airport, before withdrawing the report after what appeared to be a false alarm.
“Our air defenses engaged hostile aerial targets in the vicinity of Damascus International Airport,” the official SANA news agency said, without providing more details.
But the report was later withdrawn by both SANA and state television without explanation.
SANA then quoted sources at the airport as saying that “there was no aggression” and that “traffic was normal.”
A well-informed source told AFP that “there was evidently a false alarm.”
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the sound of explosions rocked an area close to the airport and fire from air defenses was also heard.
The latest incident comes just over a week after Syria accused Israel of striking south of the capital.
The Britain-based Observatory said those were the first missiles to hit Syria since an air defense upgrade after the downing of a Russian plane in September.
Israel has carried out hundreds of air strikes in neighboring Syria against what it says are Iranian targets, many of them in the area south of Damascus.
Iran and Russia are the government’s key allies in the civil war that has raged Syria since 2011, and Moscow’s intervention in 2015 dramatically turned the tables against the rebels.
The accidental downing of a Russian transport aircraft by Syrian ground batteries during an Israel air strike on September 17 killed 15 service personnel.
Moscow pinned responsibility for the downing on Israel, saying its fighter jet used the larger Russian one for cover, an allegation Israel disputed.
Russia subsequently upgraded Syrian air defenses with the delivery of the advanced S-300 system, which Damascus insisted would make Israel “think carefully” before carrying out further air raids.
The move raised fears in Israel that its ability to rein in its arch foe Iran’s military presence in Syria would be sharply reduced.
But Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Russia that Israel would continue to hit hostile targets, while also maintaining “security coordination” with Moscow.