AL-MUKALLA: Heavy downpours sparked flash floods that have killed at least 16 people, including two children, and damaged or ruined houses and farms across war-torn Yemen this week, Yemeni media reports and officials said.
The most intensive rains and floods and the highest number of deaths occurred in the northern provinces of Hajjah, Jouf and Ibb, where landslides and floods washed away houses and vehicles carrying people.
Local media said that five people from one family were killed when heavy floods washed away their house in the mountainous countryside in the province of Hajjah.
Residents later managed to retrieve the bodies of the victims when the rains subsided. In Hajjah’s Al-Shahel district, two people were killed and many others injured when a rockslide buried them.
Using their bare hands and light equipment, residents were seen desperately sifting through the rubble of damaged houses in search of survivors.
Heavy rains also triggered flash floods in parts of the northern Jouf province, including the province’s capital Hazem, killing at least two people, damaging crops and farms and swamping houses.
Amateur videos posted on social media showed houses crumbling as floods aggressively pushed into the streets of the city of Hazem.
Two little sisters burned to death and several other members of their family suffered burns when a fire triggered by a flash of lightning engulfed their house in a small village in the province of Ibb, residents and local media said.
Three more people were found dead in valleys after floods washed them away in Saada and Raymah. Local rescuers and authorities in the flood-hit areas say the number of deaths might increase as more bodies are retrieved.
The Sanaa-based National Meteorological Center issued a warning on Wednesday about more heavy rains across the country’s middle and northern highlands, urging people not to travel between cities or drive through mountainous or high areas due to rains and reduced visibility.
The center said the amount of rain that fell in the last 24 hours was 24.6 mm in Hajjah, 18.2 mm in Raymah and 12.6 mm in Mahwit.
The floods have exposed dozens of land mines previously planted by the Houthis in former battlefields in the central provinces of Marib and Jouf.
Landmines were seen scattered under trees and other areas throughout desert areas in Marib. This prompted the Saudi-funded Masam demining program to alert Yemenis in Marib to the location of visible land mines and suspicious devices and warn locals against tampering with them.
Mohammed Ali, a weather forecaster from the southwestern province of Hadramout, told Arab News that the accumulative amount of rains in the western, middle and eastern provinces during the past days reached 300 mm, 150 mm and 70-100 mm respectively, attributing the high death tolls to people disregarding warnings or not following weather forecasts.