Egypt's army clears roads in and out of Red Sea's Ras Gharib after deadly floods

Ahram Online , Sunday 30 Oct 2016

The city of Ras Gharib was nearly isolated by the heavy rains over the weekend

Ras Gharib
An attempt to clear the road in Red Sea's Ras Gharib after the floods resulted from heavy rains in the weekend (Photo;Ahram Arabic website)

The Egyptian army's Engineering Authority started on Sunday to clear the roads in and out of the Red Sea town of Ras Gharib after the city was nearly cut off from the world in the past 48 hours due to flooding.

Egypt's Minister of Defence Sedky Sobhi also announced on Sunday that the Egyptian army plans to distribute 100,000 food supply boxes and send medical convoys to help to stricken residents.

According to Al-Ahram Arabic website’s correspondent in Red Sea governorate, Petroleum companies, which are concentrated in the Suez-Red Sea area, also sent heavy machinery to drain water and reopen roads in the flooded city.

So far, 11 people have been killed and 36 others injured in flood-related accidents in Ras Gharib.

Nationwide, 26 people have been killed and 40 injured.

There has not been a final toll given of Ras Gharib residents who lost homes due to the flooding.

However, the city’s council and Red Sea governorate have already turned the city's schools into shelters for those left homeless, and postponed the resumption of classes indefinitely.

The ministry of education had already suspended schools in the city pending safety inspections of educational facilities.

Nearly 60% of the city’s the electrical power has been restored.

Telecommunications, especially telephone landlines, are reportedly still down in most areas of the town.

Around 150 km north of Red Sea’s Hurghada, Ras Gharib is considered the second biggest city in Red City governorate with a population of more than 50,000, mostly employed in the oil sector.

Late Thursday and early Friday, the city was hit with unprecedented rainfall that reached 120 million cubic metres.

Red Sea Governor Ahmed Abdullah announced on Saturday that Egypt's biggest charity NGO El-Orman sent an aid convoy to Ras Gharib.

"A similar aid convoy is being prepared by the ministry of solidarity and other NGOs to help those in need," the governor added.

NGOs and human rights activists are using social media to organize convoys to help the city's residents.

Heavy rains 'could not be predicted' 

Prime Minister Sherif Ismail visited Saturday Ras Gharib to survey the damage and discuss with the governor the rebuilding of disaster areas and aid to the victims.

Abdullah told the PM that what happened as a result of the heavy rains "could not be predicted" and was outside of the governorate's capacity to handle.

"There was no prior weather forecast indicating that there would be heavy rains in the area," he said.

However, the Metrological authority spokesman Wahid Saudi revealed on Sunday that the authority sent the government and governorates a warning in early fall to warn of sudden and violent heavy rains in the areas of Red Sea mountain range, including Suez and Red Sea governorates.

"The authority also sent two warnings to officials 48 hours and 24 hours prior the downpour started, urging the government to make necessary preparations," he said in an interview on ONTV

On Tuesday, the Metrological authority issued a public statement warning that the country would witness "unstable weather" starting Wednesday including strong rain especially in Upper Egypt, Sinai and the Red Sea mountain range.

The weekend floods caused considerable damage in lives and property in several governorates including Suez and Sohag.

On Saturday, President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi ordered a total of EGP 50 million (around $5.6 million) to be allocated as compensation to the victims of the floods nationwide, while a further EGP 50 million was allocated for the urgent restoration of infrastructure in areas affected by the floods.

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