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Lebanon police on high alert ahead of winter storm
Residents of Hay al-Sellom push a vehicle out of water and mud as a result of heavy rainfall. (The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)
Residents of Hay al-Sellom push a vehicle out of water and mud as a result of heavy rainfall. (The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)
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BEIRUT: The Internal Security Forces issued Sunday a warning for citizens ahead of this week’s first harsh winter storm, asking them to refrain from driving on mountainous roads as policemen were kept on high alert in case of emergencies.

“In the next few days, Lebanon will witness a winter storm that will result in snowfall on low altitudes where visibility will become bad and snow could accumulate and block some roads,” the ISF General Directorate said in a statement.

It added that acting Police Chief Maj. Gen. Ibrahim Basbous gave his orders to the police force to remain “on high alert and exhaust all means available to help citizens where roads are blocked.”

He also tasked the ISF to offer citizens help when needed, prevent vehicles from driving on roads that could become dangerous and help drivers in areas where snow would accumulate and potentially block vital roads.

Lebanon expects the arrival of the first winter storm Monday, named Alexa, carrying heavy rainfall, drastically bringing down temperatures and hauling snow at low altitude.

The police warning comes days after the country witnessed its first rainfall which caused havoc on several roads, particularly in the capital where citizens were trapped in their vehicles in flooded tunnels for several hours.

Officials at Beirut’s airport advised travelers earlier this week to arrive three hours in advance of their flight as a result of the upcoming winter storm.

Basbous also asked the security agency to help citizens in danger, particularly those living in isolated mountainous areas and coordinate with the Lebanese Army and municipalities.

The General Directorate also asked citizens to drive carefully and avoid mountainous roads except when necessary.

Citizens traveling on mountainous roads should “check if streets are blocked, equip their vehicles with metal chains, make sure their vehicles are mechanically checked and take precautionary measures when driving in these bad weather conditions.”

“[The General Directorate] also asks citizens to take preemptive measures such as filling up gas, carrying extra clothes, have enough canned food and water and a fully charged mobile phone as well as first aid kits, a small shovel and spare tires,” the statement said.

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