Lebanon – Downpours Leave 2 Dead and Submerge Main Roads Causing Traffic Chaos

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A deadly rainstorm brought traffic chaos to major Lebanese cities, including the capital Beirut and its suburbs, as students returned to schools following the Christmas and New Year holidays, and workers and employees struggled to head to work.

The torrential downpours that started on Saturday and are expected to last till Wednesday left a toddler dead in the area of Iqlim al-Kharroub after rainwater flooded the camps of Bedouins.

A man identified as Joseph Antoine Sfeir was also killed in a car crash caused by heavy rains on the Zhaimeh-Mansourieh road.

The rain flooded several major roads in Beirut and its suburbs.

The Internal Security Forces blocked the Dbayeh-Dora seaside road and turned traffic into the main highway after vehicles barely made it through the deep surface water in the area of Karantina bridge.

The heavy rain that built up on the lanes of the Cite Sportive tunnel resulted in queues of slow-moving traffic.

Further exacerbating the early morning traffic was a more than one-kilometer-line of container trucks waiting to enter Beirut port that lies on the highway that links the North with the capital.

In another area of Beirut, an old tree fell near Rizk hospital in Ashrafiyeh, damaging two cars.

Beirut Firefighting Department said in a statement that since Sunday morning, rescuers had assisted scores of people stuck in their cars and mainly in the Karantina area.

North of Beirut, commuters were stranded in their vehicles on the Nahr al-Kalb-Zekrit road after it turned into a river. One person was injured there after the road partially collapsed, said Lebanese Red Cross Operations Director George Kettaneh.

Kettaneh added that the Red Cross had taken 34 people to hospitals since the storm began striking the country on Saturday.

A landslide on the Zouk Mosbeh-Jeita highway near the base of the Civil Defense Department also brought traffic to a standstill while the Mansourieh-Mkalles road and its surroundings were transformed into miniature canals.

The disastrous roads brought complaints and severe criticism on social networking sites, with people blaming the government for its inadequate measures in resolving the traffic chaos.

“‎Seven am- grey sky, traffic:( natural lakes on the highway! Thanks government!! When it rains in Beirut we should vote for no work and no school!,” said an angry woman.

“Ahhh !! Can’t wait !!!! #excitement2013,” said one man as he accompanied a news alert to his Facebook post saying traffic had come to a standstill on the Nahr al-Most-Jdeideh road.

One tweeter said mockingly that the Titanic ship had appeared near Beirut while all sorts of fish were found in Dbayeh.

She added that Cyprus had reached the area of Qasqas in Beirut.

But Interior Minister Marwan Charbel said security forces have been on alert for the past 3 days.

“I ask municipality workers to open clogged sewers,” he told Voice of Lebanon radio (93.3).

The downpours caused traffic chaos in the southern city of Sidon where residents urged the authorities to open clogged sewers which caused dirty water to accumulate in some areas.

In the town of Jadra near Sidon, citizens asked rescuers for help after the rain flooded several houses.

Strong winds also tore down several billboards along the coastal highway that links Beirut with Sidon.

The storm caused major blackouts in several areas, including the coastal town of Batroun and the eastern Bekaa valley.

It also brought snow to the mountainous areas amid subzero temperatures. An ISF checkpoint prevented commuters with cars not equipped with tire chains from heading to Dahr al-Baidar.

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