In Egypt, 7 dead after chaotic day of heavy rains, flooding

1 / 5
The streets of Faisal area after heavy rains today in the capital Cairo, Egypt on October 22, 2019. (AFP)
2 / 5
A man watches rescue vehicles withdrawing water by suction from the al-Oroba tunnel in the Heliopolis district after rain led to traffic jam in the Egyptian capital Cairo on October 22, 2019. (AFP)
3 / 5
The streets of Faisal area after heavy rains today in the capital Cairo, Egypt on October 22, 2019. (AFP)
4 / 5
The streets of Faisal area after heavy rains today in the capital Cairo, Egypt on October 22, 2019. (AFP)
5 / 5
Reflection of the streets of Faisal area after heavy rains today in the capital Cairo, Egypt on October 22, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 23 October 2019

In Egypt, 7 dead after chaotic day of heavy rains, flooding

  • People captured images of Tuesday’s downpours and flooding on their mobile phones, posting footage on social media
  • Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouly said Wednesday’s school closures were limited to the greater Cairo area, including Giza and Qalioubia, as more rainfall was expected

CAIRO: At least seven people, including three children, were killed in Egypt’s Nile Delta and Sinai regions, authorities said Wednesday after heavy rains pummeled Cairo and other parts of the country the previous day, causing massive traffic jams and flooding many key roads.
People captured images of Tuesday’s downpours and flooding on their mobile phones, posting footage on social media, including scenes of cars submerged by flood waters.
In one dramatic video, a man on a bulldozer pulls the lifeless body of a little girl out of the water in a flooded area in the northern province of Sharqia as shouts and screams are heard in the background. Another video shows a policeman, steps away from the presidential palace in Cairo’s district of Heliopolis, wading into a flooded street to unclog a sewage drain.
Authorities closed schools and universities in the greater Cairo area Wednesday and companies saw only skeletal staff show up at work after Tuesday’s heavy rains.
The mayhem raised questions about Cairo’s ability to deal with heavy rainfall as the city’s infrastructure and sewage and drainage systems have suffered from years of poor maintenance.
Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouly said Wednesday’s school closures were limited to the greater Cairo area, including Giza and Qalioubia, as more rainfall was expected in the next couple of days, according to the country’s weather service.
Five deaths occurred in the Nile Delta provinces of Sharqia, Gharbia and Kafr el-Sheikh, according to the Interior Ministry. Three of the victims, including two children, were fatally electrocuted. The other two victims died falling from the rooftops of their flooded homes.
Local authorities in northern Sinai also reported two deaths. Moataz Taher, head of the el-Hassana municipality, said in a statement that a 47-year-old farmer and his 13-year-old daughter died early Wednesday in the flooding.
Cairo’s eastern suburb of Nasr City was hit the hardest, as well as Heliopolis, located near Cairo’s international airport. The government said the two suburbs had received at least 650,000 cubic meters of precipitation in just 90 minutes on Tuesday, overwhelming the city’s sewage and drain systems.
Trucks fanned out across Cairo to drain water from flooded areas. A key highway connecting Cairo to other provinces was closed, the state-run Al-Ahram daily reported.
EgyptAir said it had delayed some fights on Tuesday because passengers were stuck on the roads and unable to get to the airport. A part of the old Cairo airport terminal which has been under renovation was also flooded, with footage on social media showing rainwater pouring into the hallway.
The Civil Aviation Ministry said that terminal was only being used by a private carrier for one or two flights a day and shared photos of it after it was cleaned up.


Moscow push to reduce UN cross-border aid to Syria fails

Updated 09 July 2020

Moscow push to reduce UN cross-border aid to Syria fails

  • Moscow wanted to abolish the first crossing point and put a time limit of six months on the second
  • The resolution received only four votes

United Nations, United States: A Russian bid to get the United Nations to reduce cross-border humanitarian aid to war-torn Syria was voted down by the Security Council Wednesday, an official said.
Authorization for the aid, which comes through two crossing points on the Turkish border — at Bab Al-Salam, which leads to the Aleppo region, and Bab Al-Hawa, which serves the Idlib region — expires Friday.
Under its resolution, Moscow had wanted to abolish the first crossing point and put a time limit of six months on the second.
Russia needed nine votes and no veto from a permanent member of the Council to get its resolution passed — but received only four votes, announced the President of the Security Council, German Ambassador Christoph Heusgen.
Seven countries voted against it and four abstained. “The draft resolution has not been adopted, having failed to obtain the required number of votes,” Heusgen said.
Diplomats said that Russia, along with China, Vietnam and South Africa, had voted for the resolution.
Against were the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Belgium, Estonia and the Dominican Republic.
Tunisia, Niger, Indonesia and Saint Vincent abstained, the diplomats said.
The vote came after Russia and China on Tuesday vetoed a draft resolution by Germany and Belgium providing for a one-year extension of the cross-border authorization and the maintenance of both crossing points.
In an interview with AFP on Wednesday, Washington’s ambassador to the UN, Kelly Craft, said the US opposed any reduction.
“We know the right thing to do is to have both border crossings in the northwest remain open to reach the maximum amount of Syrians that are in need of humanitarian aid,” Craft told AFP.
When asked if the issue was a “red line,” she replied, “Yes, absolutely.”
Russia’s move “is just another attempt for them to politicize humanitarian assistance,” she said.
According to Craft, keeping only one border crossing open would cut off 1.3 million people living north of Aleppo from humanitarian aid.
The choice to be made between the Western position and that of Russia and China is “between good and evil, right and wrong,” said Craft, noting that Germany and Belgium “already have a new draft in mind and we are very supportive.”
The two European countries submitted their new draft Wednesday evening. In their latest draft text, obtained by AFP, Germany and Belgium asked for just a six-month extension of cross-border aid authorization, instead of one year.
But they have kept both border crossings open, and there is no indication that Moscow — in a position of strength on the subject, as it was six months ago — will be satisfied with the changes.
The result of a forthcoming vote on the new draft, which Russia could again block, is not expected until Friday, when the UN cross-border authorization expires.
Craft in 2019 visited one of the crossing points from the Turkish side near Bab Al-Hawa, an experience that made a lasting impression and made working with displaced Syrians “a personal issue,” she said.
Authorization for cross-border humanitarian aid has existed since 2014, with periodic extensions.
Tuesday’s vote was the 15th time that Russia has used its veto since the start of the Syrian war in 2011, and the ninth for China.
They argue that the UN authorization violates Syria’s sovereignty, and that aid can increasingly be channeled through Syrian authorities.