Heavy rain causes floods, paralyzes Lebanon’s capital

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Cars are stuck after breaking down on a flooded road due to heavy rain, at the southern entrance of the Lebanese capital Beirut on December 9, 2019. (AFP)
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Lebanese men use a paddle board as means of transportation on a flooded road due to heavy rain, at the southern entrance of the capital Beirut on December 9, 2019. (AFP)
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People walk through floodwaters in Beirut's southern suburb of Ouzai, Lebanon on Dec. 9, 2019. (AP)
Updated 09 December 2019

Heavy rain causes floods, paralyzes Lebanon’s capital

  • Every year when it rains, roads get flooded with water because of an inadequate sewage system
  • “I am ready to take full responsibility,” the minister said during a news conference

BEIRUT: A rainstorm paralyzed parts of Lebanon’s capital Beirut on Monday, turning streets to small rivers, stranding motorists inside their vehicles and damaging homes in some areas.
The flooding came as protesters have been holding nearly two months of demonstrations against the country’s political elite and decades of widespread corruption and mismanagement. Protesters remained in their encampments in Beirut and other cities amid the heavy rain.
Despite spending billions of dollars since the 1975-90 civil war on improving infrastructure, Lebanon still suffers hourslong electricity cuts every day, and many people rely on tanker trucks to bring water to their homes. Every year when it rains, roads get flooded with water because of an inadequate sewage system.
The rain began to fall Sunday morning and has affected the entire country, but Beirut and its suburbs were hit the worst.
In the southern suburb of Ouzai, cars were nearly submerged in the rising water, leaving motorists stranded. A tunnel that passes under the Rafik Hariri International Airport remained closed for hours because pumps that clear water from inside it didn’t work.
A man was seen using a surf board to pass through the tunnel, while in other parts of the city some residents used small boats to get around.
Outgoing Minister of Public Works and Transpiration Youssef Fenianos blamed the crisis on what he said was 50-year-old infrastructure and population increases in some areas. He added that as a result of Lebanon’s recent economic and financial crisis, it was difficult to open lines of credit for infrastructure work.
“I am ready to take full responsibility,” the minister said during a news conference.
Fenianos was part of the Cabinet of former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who resigned Oct. 29 under fire from the anti-government protesters. A stalemate has since ensued over who should head the new government amid a deepening economic crisis, shortage of liquidity and hard currency.


Dubai screens passengers from China amid virus outbreak

Updated 9 min 52 sec ago

Dubai screens passengers from China amid virus outbreak

  • The UAE said it was free of the coronavirus
  • China is the UAE’s top trading partner

DUBAI: Dubai International Airport, one of the world’s biggest aviation hubs, said Thursday it would carry out thermal screening of all passengers arriving from China amid an outbreak of a deadly virus.
The move goes further than other major transport hubs in Europe and the United States, which have limited their screening to passengers coming from Wuhan, the city at the center of the scare.
“Dubai Airports confirms... that all passengers arriving on direct flights from the People’s Republic of China must receive thermal screening at the gate upon arrival,” a statement said.
China has locked down two major cities including Wuhan to fight the coronavirus that has already claimed 17 lives and spread to a number of other countries.
Dubai’s government said on Thursday that some 989,000 Chinese tourists visited the glitzy emirate last year and that the number was expected to cross the one-million mark in 2020. Some 3.6 million Chinese transited through the airport in 2019.
“The screening will be conducted on secured, closed gates at the airport by Dubai Health Authority and its Airport Medical Center team,” the statement said.
The coronavirus has caused alarm because of its similarity to SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), which killed nearly 650 people across mainland China and Hong Kong in 2002-2003.
Like SARS, it can be passed among people through the respiratory tract.
Dubai International Airport in 2018 served 89.15 million passengers, retaining its world-number-one spot of welcoming the largest number of foreign passengers for the fifth year in a row.
There was no announcement as yet from authorities in the neighboring emirate of Abu Dhabi which also has a large airport.
Dozens of flights operate weekly between Chinese cities and Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
China is the UAE’s top trading partner and Abu Dhabi is among the 15 top crude suppliers to Beijing. Several hundred Chinese companies have offices in the UAE.
The United Arab Emirates’ health ministry said Wednesday that the Gulf state with a population of 10 million — about 90 percent of them foreigners — was free of the coronavirus, and that it had taken sufficient measures to face the disease.
“The health situation poses no grounds for concern and the ministry is closely following up on the situation to ensure the health and safety of everyone,” it said.