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Egypt's prime minister cites authorities' 'negligence' over Alexandria floods

Ahram Online , Tuesday 27 Oct 2015
Sherif Ismail
Egypt's prime minister Sherif Ismail (Al-Ahram)
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Egyptian Prime Minster Sherif Ismail acknowledged on Tuesday that there had been “negligence” from the authorities towards the severe weather conditions and the resulting floods in Alexandria this week.

On Sunday, the country's second-largest city witnessed heavy rains which flooded streets and many homes, paralysing daily life and leaving five people dead.

However, Ismail also said at a press conference in Cairo that "the volume of rain that fell on Saturday from midnight until 9am was around 3.2 million cubic feet, and the volume which could be handled by Alexandria's sewer system is 1.4 million cubic feet."

"This means that the amount of water was unprecedented, but this is not an excuse; there was negligence towards the crisis," Ismail said.

On Sunday Ismail accepted the resignation of Hani El-Mesery, the governor of Alexandria. Administrative prosecutors have opened an investigation to determine whether public officials in the coastal governorate were guilty of neglect and endangerment of residents' welfare.

Ismail, who took office last month, travelled to Alexandria on Sunday afternoon in order to examine damage caused by the rain and floods. He announced during his visit that the cabinet would allocate LE75 million ($9.7 million) to upgrade Alexandria's ageing rain drainage system, which was largely to blame for the chaos that engulfed the city following the rains.

At the Tuesday press conference, Ismail said that "112 water suction vehicles came from six different governorates, as well as 48 from Alexandria, to work on removing the water from the streets."

"There are also many infrastructure projects in the governorate which are still under construction, and we are considering sending more equipment to finish up the entire infrastructure project," Ismail said.

Some social media users on Tuesday circulated a video of El-Mesery and a top official in the governorate which show the former governor asking about bad weather preparations.

"I know that the beginning of the winter season sees heavy rain, and we need to know whether we're ready to facing it or not…so if you need anything related to equipment or facilities tell me now," El-Mesery told the official in the videos, who responded: “Don't worry about it sir, we're ready." 

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