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Five dead as Egypt's Alexandria drowns in Sunday’s flash floods

Five were killed in accidents caused by heavy rain that paralysed Egypt's second largest city; residents vent anger on social media; governor says long history of neglect to blame

Ahram Online , Sunday 25 Oct 2015
heavy rainfall
A public bus and a microbus are seen in a main street after heavy rainfall in Alexandria, Egypt, October 25, 2015. (Reuters)
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Five people were killed in accidents in Alexandria caused by rain storms that struck the coastal governorate on Sunday, the health ministry said. 

The city of Alexandria, the second largest in Egypt, was flooded due to heavy rain that hit the city Sunday morning.

Heavy rains paralysed traffic and electricity, causing power outages in many districts across the city, Al-Ahram Arabic news website reported.

Pictures of cars, taxis, microbuses, and even people partly submerged in water in Alexandria went viral on social media, with many residents expressing anger at the authorities, including Governor Hani El-Mesery, for not preparing for the rainy season in advance. 

Many pictures showed taxi and microbus drivers struggling to salvage their vehicles out of the drowning streets.

A video, which was posted on Facebook under the title "The Human Ferry",  showed a man helping other residents cross from one sidewalk to the other amid flooded streets. 

Alexandria

Rainy season starts in Egypt in October and ends by late April. Weather is typically mild across the country, with rain in some areas, and heavy downpours along coastal areas. 

Heavy rains have also hit other governorates in Egypt on Sunday, causing havoc in governorates such as Suez on the Red Sea, and Beheira in the north Nile Delta.

On Sunday afternoon, as Alexadria toiled to deal with paralysing floods, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi ordered prime minister Sherif Ismail to immediately attend to the problems of the city.

El-Sisi instructed the cabinet to provide all care needed to the homes and families who have been harmed by the heavy rains. 

He has also ordered compensation for the families of the deceased in weather-related accidents across the country.

Meanwhile, Alexandria's governor Hani El-Mesery issued a statement describing the situation in the city on Sunday as an "ecological disaster.”

He explained that the problem will not be solved before repairing and modernisig the city's drainage system, a project which would cost an estimated LE75 million ($9.7 million) and couldn't be completed before the Fall of 2016. 

The governor had argued in early October that the city has not undergone any infrastucture development projects for 15 years.

However, many critics charge that the current administration has not started to pay enough attention to decades' old problems, and failed to prepare for the rainy season. 

On Sunday morning,  El-Mesery asked for the help of the civil defence forces (Egypt's rescue and firefighting workers)  in the neighbouring governorate of Beheira. However, the Beheira authorities told El-Mesery they could not help because their own governorate was also facing similar harsh weather conditions. 

Alexandria witnesses flash floods on almost on a yearly basis. Last year, floods wreaked havoc on the city for several days.

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