Lebanon News

Storms kill four, affect power and water supply

The burnt out shacks that were hit by a lightning in Broummana, Thursday, March 13, 2014. (The Daily Star/Mahmoud Kheir)

BEIRUT: Four people died Thursday as a result of weather-related accidents following days of heavy rainfall and strong winds, while households across the country witnessed power and water cuts.

Lightning struck a prefabricated house in the Metn region of Broummana, Mount Lebanon, setting off a fire that killed an elderly man, his sister and his daughter.

Security sources said the fire started after the lightning bolt caused a gas cylinder to explode, a relatively rare occurrence as Lebanon has a low lightning-related death rate.

The house belongs to the Mar Chaaya Monastery where 77-year-old Habib Sabaalani worked. He died along with his sister, 72, and his daughter, 40.

Also Thursday, a Syrian national was killed after a landslide in the Metn town of Roumieh struck the construction site where he was working. Saleh al-Ahmad died after being trapped under the rubble.

Another who was also trapped under the debris was safely rescued, while four other Syrian workers who were injured in the landslide are not in a critical condition, according to the security sources.

A local television station said the Internal Security Forces’ intelligence unit was conducting an investigation into whether the site had a proper building license.

Separately, Electricité du Liban said it needed another 48 hours to complete repairs to power networks damaged by bad weather.

Around 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, lightning struck EDL’s electricity transmission networks, leading to power cuts in several Lebanese areas including the capital’s administrative areas, the national electricity company said in a statement.

EDL said technical teams had managed to make repairs by 2 a.m. Thursday but that it would need another two days to complete work on the Deir Ammar and Zahrani power plants. “The situation should be back to normal Saturday night,” the company said.

In a separate statement, EDL said maintenance work in Beirut Friday would lead to power cuts in several areas of the capital. The power outages are expected to occur between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Meanwhile, the Beirut and Mount Lebanon Water establishment cut off the water supply to residents north of Beirut Thursday after water in the Jeita springs, the Nahr Ibrahim River and the Dayshounieh spring was severely churned up by the sudden storm.

In a statement, the company said it was forced to halt water supplies to subscribers in central Metn, Halat, Nahr Ibrahim, Jbeil and Amchit after observing “extraordinary high turbidity levels due to the storm and floods.”

Water supplies will resume when the turbidity level, which measures the transparency of water, has subsided, the company added.

Lebanon has witnessed heavy rainfall and strong winds since Monday after a long dry spell. The forecast for Friday is for slighter clearer skies and scattered showers. The temperature in Beirut will reach highs of 18 degrees and lows of 12 degrees. Higher altitudes will see temperatures topping 10 degrees and reaching as low as 4 degrees. Saturday should be slightly warmer.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on March 14, 2014, on page 4.




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