ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 142

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6 dead in Egypt as severe weather sweeps Mideast

Storm dumps baseball-sized hailstones in Israel; flooding damages West Bank roads; Lebanese activists clean up garbage-flooded streets

  • A bulldozer cleans the Beirut river from garbage as part of a campaign during heavy rain on October 25, 2015. There are fears the uncollected waste, coupled with the looming rainy season, could spread diseases such as cholera among the population. (AFP PHOTO / ANWAR AMRO)
    A bulldozer cleans the Beirut river from garbage as part of a campaign during heavy rain on October 25, 2015. There are fears the uncollected waste, coupled with the looming rainy season, could spread diseases such as cholera among the population. (AFP PHOTO / ANWAR AMRO)
  • An ultra-Orthodox Jewish man holds an umbrella on Jaffa Street, downtown Jerusalem on a rainy day, October 25, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
    An ultra-Orthodox Jewish man holds an umbrella on Jaffa Street, downtown Jerusalem on a rainy day, October 25, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
  • Lebanese men workout as waves crash over them on the seafront at the Corniche, or waterfront promenade, in Beirut, Lebanon on Oct. 25, 2015. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
    Lebanese men workout as waves crash over them on the seafront at the Corniche, or waterfront promenade, in Beirut, Lebanon on Oct. 25, 2015. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
  • Lightning strikes during a thunderstorm in Beheira, 180 kilometers (112 miles) north of Cairo, Egypt, Sunday, Oct. 25, 2015. (AP Photo/Mahmood Shahiin)
    Lightning strikes during a thunderstorm in Beheira, 180 kilometers (112 miles) north of Cairo, Egypt, Sunday, Oct. 25, 2015. (AP Photo/Mahmood Shahiin)
  • Lebanese activists take part in a campaign to clean the Beirut river from garbage during heavy rain on October 25, 2015. There are fears the uncollected waste, coupled with the looming rainy season, could spread diseases such as cholera among the population. (AFP PHOTO / ANWAR AMRO)
    Lebanese activists take part in a campaign to clean the Beirut river from garbage during heavy rain on October 25, 2015. There are fears the uncollected waste, coupled with the looming rainy season, could spread diseases such as cholera among the population. (AFP PHOTO / ANWAR AMRO)
  • Heavy rain and strong winds batter Tel Aviv, October 25, 2015. (Ben Kelmer/Flash90)
    Heavy rain and strong winds batter Tel Aviv, October 25, 2015. (Ben Kelmer/Flash90)

A severely inclement weather system swept across the Middle East on Sunday, killing six people in Egypt, five of whom were electrocuted by a fallen power cable, pounding Israel with baseball-sized hailstones, and sending torrents of uncollected garbage through the streets of Beirut.

The cable from a tramway in the coastal city of Alexandria landed in streets flooded with water, electrocuting the five, senior health official Magdy Hegazy said. He said a sixth person, a judge, drowned when he was trapped in his car by the floodwaters.

State news agency MENA reported heavy rains in several other Egyptian governorates, with authorities closing the port of Ain Sokhna near the southern end of the Suez Canal due to high winds and waves.

President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi ordered the government to provide aid to the hard-hit Alexandria area, while sandstorms and flash floods hit parts of the Sinai Peninsula. Cairo was also hit by a rare rainstorm.

In Israel, high winds knocked over cranes while hail the size of baseballs struck cities across the country.

In Pardes Hanna, a 20-year-old construction worker was killed when a wall in a construction site was toppled by strong winds that buffeted the area, along with heavy rains.

Elsewhere, trees were knocked down, including one that hit a bus, seriously injuring a passenger.

Israel’s weather service reported wind speeds of 100 kilometers (62 miles) per hour.

Amateur footage published on social media showed a construction crane collapsing in central Tel Aviv, flash flooding, cars squashed by trees and pedestrians seeking shelter from the massive hailstones.

The weather caused blackouts in several wind-swept towns and cities, including Herzliya, Netanya, Ramat Hasharon, Petah Tikva, Givat Shmuel and a number of communities in the north of the country.

Police on Sunday afternoon closed Route 90 between the southern resort city of Eilat and Be’er Ora due to flooding.

In the northern West Bank city of Tulkarem, heavy rains and flooding caused parts of a road to collapse, Palestinian media reported.

According to Ramallah News, the road leading to the Dr. Thabet Thabet Hospital, the city’s only major medical center, was severely damaged by the storm.

صور لانهيار أجزاء من شارع بالقرب من مستشفى ثابت ثابت بمدينة طولكرم قبل قليل بسبب غزارة الامطار ولا اصابات

Posted by ‎Ramallah News – رام الله الإخباري‎ on Sunday, October 25, 2015

In Lebanon, meanwhile, heavy rains caused floodwaters to mix with mounds of uncollected garbage, raising public health concerns.

The country has been in the grip of a monthslong trash crisis caused by the government shutting down the city’s main landfill without offering an alternative. The crisis has ignited mass protests against the government, which has failed to provide a number of basic services and is widely seen as corrupt and dysfunctional.

Activists from the You Stink movement, which has been leading the protests, shared videos on their Facebook page of plastic trash bags and other garbage floating down a narrow street lined with cars. The Beirut river, where garbage had been piling up on the banks for months, resembled an open sewer. Activists volunteered to help clean it, which could revive the anti-government campaign.

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