AL-MUKALLA: Heavy rains and flash flooding hit almost all Yemeni provinces in the last couple of days, killing at least 14 people and washing away dozens of houses, local media and local officials said on Sunday.
The largest death toll was recorded in the western province of Hodeidah, where 13 people died and more than 35 houses in three districts were destroyed.
Images on social media showed floods washing away houses, farms and cars in poor districts of Hodeidah. Flooding killed one person and ruined houses and farms in the province of Ibb, local media and residents said.
Heavy rains also hit the capital Sanaa, causing floods that affected many residential areas. “The damage in all affected areas is huge,” Salem Al-Khanbashi, Yemen’s deputy prime minister, told Arab News.
The flooding damaged power lines in the southern province of Lahj and wiped out farms in Hadramout and Abyan, he said, adding that the National Emergency Committee had convened to discuss how to handle the damage and offer urgent assistance to the affected areas.
“The international donors and organizations should urgently help us. We cannot handle this problem on our own.”
On Saturday the country’s National Meteorological Center renewed its warning to the public to avoid flood courses and to avoid traveling this week, predicting a new wave of heavy rains, strong winds and flash floods in many provinces.
Last week a downpour that lasted for several hours ruined more than 90 houses in the historical city of Shibam, which is entirely made of mud, prompting residents and local officials into appealing for international help to rescue the city from collapse. Yemenis are also bracing themselves for further havoc in the form of a new locust invasion, as rainstorms create ideal breeding conditions.
Yemen has been embroiled in conflict since late 2014, when the Iran-backed Houthis seized control of Sanaa and expanded across the country. The fighting has created the world’s worst humanitarian crisis and devastated the national economy.
Despite the torrential floods, fighting raged on the main frontline across Yemen on Saturday and Sunday in the provinces of Hodeidah, Al-Bayda and Marib.
Yemen’s Defense Ministry said that army troops and allied tribesmen liberated a number of locations in Qania, in the central province of Al-Bayda.
Brig. Ahmed Al-Nageh, the commander of 117 Infantry Brigade in Al-Bayda, said government forces, backed by Saudi-led coalition warplanes, engaged in heavy fighting with the Houthis in Qania, adding that the warplanes targeted Houthi military personnel and equipment in Al-Sabel and Masouda mountains. Clashes were reported in Hodeida, where government forces pushed back Houthi incursions in Durihimi and Jah districts, local media reported.
Yemen is also battling the coronavirus pandemic, which has so far killed 474 people and infected 1,674 in government-controlled areas, according to the latest figures from the Aden-based National Coronavirus Committee.
Local and international health experts believe that the actual number of coronavirus patients is five times higher than the official figures.