Dubai A storm sweeping across Lebanon for the second day killed two people, including a six-month-old baby boy washed away by floods, blocked roads and led the government to order school closures for two days starting Monday, reports said.
The stormy weather is expected to continue for the next couple of days, with winds reaching 80km an hour and snow falling at 300 meter elevations, prompting officials to urge people to stay at home.
“We are in a state of alert and we call on people to stay in their homes to avoid being trapped in roads that are flooded with water,” Interior Minister Marwan Sharbel told local media.
Coastal highways leading to Beirut were closed and several billboards were torn down by strong winds and torrential rains. Dozens of people were trapped in their vehicles on highways in what the Meteorological office described as a “rare storm.”
The violent storm uprooted nearly a dozen tents in the hills of Jadra overnight. The tents had been set up by Lebanese shepherds who hail from the Bekaa town of Deir Zannoun in east Lebanon, local reports said. Powerful winds at 100 km/hour toppled several trees and ripped up agricultural greenhouses along the coastal highway between Sidon and the rest of south Lebanon.
“This is a rare storm. Lebanon hasn’t witnessed such a storm in decades,” a source at the Meteorological office was quoted as saying.
Meanwhile, stormy weather, including high winds and heavy rainfall, lashed Israel and the Palestinian territories, downing powerlines and trees and causing several injuries. Electricity outages caused by downed powerlines were reported throughout the country.
The stormy weather came as Orthodox Christians in the Holy Land celebrated Christmas on Monday.
See also A18