Rains over the Saint Catherine's Monastery, at the foot of Mount Sinai and St. Catherine mountain in Saint Catherine city, Sinai, Egypt (Photo: Hala Ahmed)
A spate of bad weather is taking its toll in Egypt, with over a dozen killed in weather-related accidents and heavy rains causing floods and damage in parts of the country.
Egyptian authorities declared an emergency alert on Sunday as the town St. Catherine in St Sinai was hit by a flood after heavy rain in the area.
Egypt's meteorological authority announced on Thursday that there would be heavy rain and thunderstorms this week in Sinai, the adjacent Gulf of Suez, and in Upper Egypt. It also said that less severe weather would affect the Nile Delta area.
Al-Ahram's Arabic news website reported a state of panic among St. Catherine residents, with the flood expected to reach the city’s main market area.
The extent of damage is not yet known and the governorate administration of South Sinai is at its highest alert level, reported Al-Ahram.
The mountainous region where St. Catherine is situated – more than 1,500 metres above sea level – is known to experience extreme weather conditions.
Four hikers lost their lives while climbing mountains close to St. Catherine when they were stranded by a snowstorm in February.
Weather related road accidents over the weekend also caused death in Minya governorate in Upper Egypt and near Hurghada on the Red Sea, killing 16 people in two separate bus accidents.
The ceiling of the international arrivals hall of Hurghada Airport was also damaged by rain, and international flights had to be transferred to the domestic travel terminal. President Adly Mansour has ordered an investigation into the incident.
Even remote provinces were not spared. Storms on Saturday and Sunday damaged mud-brick homes in oasis towns in Egypt’s desert Wadi Al-Gedid governorate, prompting a declaration of a state of emergency in the area.
At least 16 homes in Al-Dakhla Oasis -- 350 km from the Nile and between the oases of Farafra and Kharga -- have been damaged by the rain, according to a local government official who spoke to Al-Ahram's Arabic news website.
Arrangements have been made to accommodate local people in the main government building in the Baris Oasis, one of the only concrete structures in the area.