Storms devastate Syria, neighbours

2013-01-09 19:56
Jordan refugee camp (Picture: AP)

Jordan refugee camp (Picture: AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

kalahari.com

  • Palestine
    The traumas and tragedies of historic Palestine are impacting every twist and turn in the countdown... Now R209.00
    buy now

Beirut - The worst winter storm in two decades has hit the eastern Mediterranean this week, bringing destruction and death to Syria and its neighbours who are already dealing with a refugee crisis from the country's civil war.

Opposition activists in Syria, where war has forced hundreds of thousands of people from their homes and cut off access to food, fuel and power for cities and towns, say dozens of people have died there in four days of relentless extreme weather.

At least 17 people have also died due to the storm in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Israel and the Palestinian territories.

Schools in some areas have been shut for days, refugee camps flooded and villages isolated by closed roads.

Meteorological agencies in Israel and Lebanon both called it the worst storm in 20 years.

Snowfall in the Syrian capital Damascus and the northern city of Aleppo did not halt the fighting between rebels and forces loyal to President Bashar Assad, which has killed more than 60 000 people in the past 21 months.

Abu Othman, a Syrian opposition activist in the eastern Damascus suburbs where temperatures reached -6°C on Tuesday night, said there had been no let up in street fighting and shelling, although the weather had at least halted air strikes by Assad's forces.

"Our conditions are getting worse and worse with this storm. Everyone is freezing, there is nothing to heat ourselves with. There is a growing food problem because all the rain and now snow has made road conditions very dangerous," he said, speaking over a satellite Internet connection.

In northern Syria, displaced civilians were sheltering in caves to keep dry, said Fadi Yasin, an activist from the north western Idlib province, one of the first areas where peaceful protests turned into armed rebellion.

Some of thousands of people who lost their homes in shelling or had fled fighting have moved into Syria's Dead Cities, 700 abandoned settlements from the Byzantine period, he said.

"They have taken plastic tarps and sheets to cover the frames of old buildings, and have been living there but obviously it is dangerously cold to live there in a storm like this," he said.

"Few people have anything like fuel for heating, and many just feel lucky to have blankets."

Families are burning doors and chairs to keep warm in the absence of fuel in Aleppo, Syria's most populous city, now largely in rebel hands, said Michal Przedalcki, from Czech charity People In Need, working in northern Syria.

"Unfortunately I think it quite likely that people will die from the severe weather conditions. Already people have not been eating enough for several months, and that exposes their bodies to more disease and infection, especially after also living through weeks of cold conditions," he said.

Refugee camp flooded

More than 600 000 Syrian refugees have fled to neighbouring countries exposed to the storm.

Many in Lebanon and Jordan were forced to move after their tents were flooded.

In Lebanon's Bekaa Valley, a makeshift camp of around 400 people was flooded and tents were wrecked when torrents of rain surged into the area.

The Lebanese themselves are suffering, with many roads washed away.

Much of Lebanon's Bekaa Valley, wedged between high mountains that separate Syria from the coast, has lost electricity and phone service, and dozens of mountain villages have been cut off from roads due to snow.

In Jordan's Zaatari camp, home to 30 000 Syrian refugees, torrential rains flooded several hundred tents and forced refugees to scramble for shelter in prefabricated caravans.

Hundreds of residents were moved to a school building and trailers after water flooded their tents and damaged belongings.

"I call upon anyone who has a conscience. We want heaters for our children. Many people have moved into caravans to shelter their children from the cold and from the flooding. The living conditions are horrible," said Um Bilal, holding a bucket to empty water from her tent.

In a makeshift camp in Qobbat Beshomra on Lebanon's Mediterranean coast, the tent that Sayyad Ali, 27, built from plastic sheeting to protect his family was scant shield against rain, wind and hail whipping in from the sea.

"It's like we've returned to ancient times," Ali said as rain pelted the tent's roof.

"We're living without electricity, without water, without anything."

Hail and snow

The Israel Meteorological Service said the storm, which hardly let up since Sunday, had brought the most rainfall and the most straight days of heavy rain in 20 years.

The Lebanese Meteorological Agency said that only a month of straight rain in 1992 top this week’s rainfall.

Snow was expected on Wednesday in Jerusalem, and municipal authorities ordered schools closed at noon.

Ofir Gendelman, a spokesperson for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, tweeted: "Hail in Tel Aviv, 1 foot of snow expected today in Jerusalem. Lake Kinneret [the Sea of Galilee] is filling up after years of drought. Who can ask for more?"

In the Israeli-occupied West Bank, two women travelling in a Palestinian taxi in the Tulkarm area were swept away by the flood and were found dead on Wednesday morning.

And in Gaza, one Palestinian died and others were wounded when a tunnel collapsed along the border with Egypt due to floods, local residents and medics said.

In Hadera, a city 45km north of Tel Aviv, some 2 500 homes were without electricity.

On Tuesday night rescue workers used rubber rafts to navigate flooded streets and evacuate people from flooded houses.

Turkish Airlines cancelled hundreds of flights. All schools were closed in many northern and eastern parts of Turkey as well as in Istanbul where a passenger bus skidded off an icy road into a lake in Istanbul late on Tuesday, injuring 30 passengers.

The government also issued warnings about natural gas leaks as people try to heat their homes, after eight people died from poisoning in their sleep over the past week, a regular occurrence during cold snaps in Turkey.

Television channels and radios made frequent reminders on the issue and also called on animal-loving Turks to leave bread crumbs and wheat outside their houses to prevent animal deaths.

Read more on:    jordan  |  palestine  |  syria  |  isreal  |  turkey  |  syria conflict  |  weather
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
5 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
 

An uncomfortable election

The latter few weeks of election 2014, have seen South Africans reeling from an assault on their comfort zone when it comes to voting, writes Daniel Silke

 
 

Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Thursday Sir Lowry's Pass - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Old Sir Lowrys Pass Road
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Bezweni Road
  • Thursday Cape Town - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Buitengracht Street
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Waterkant Street
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as kalahari.com’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

BlackBerry Curve 3G 9300

Keep it together Text. Email. Social. With all the different ways to...

From R1399.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may find yourself putting in that extra effort on looking good and making an impression. ...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.