Ramallah: Two Palestinian women died after being swept away by flood water near the city of Tulkarem, north of the West Bank yesterday.
The women, Samah Kanaan, 36, and Hana Al Sarawi, aged 24, were on their way home from Tulkarem to their home city of Nablus when the incident occurred. A senior official from Tulkarem Governorate told Gulf News that the initial investigation in the incident showed that the two women worked for an insurance company and came to Tukarem to finish up some urgent business transaction.
After the work was completed, they hired a taxi and it was this vehicle which was carried away by water. The driver escaped.
Heavy rain has fallen in the entire Palestinian Territories for the past couple of days and is expected to last over the weekend. Continuous calls have been made by Palestinian official authorities, including the civil defence and rescue teams, urging the public to stay in their homes and not leave them unless it was an extremely urgent matter. The official stressed that the Palestinian Territories had never experienced such heavy rain and strong winds the in the past 20 years, and so the Palestinian civil defence had sealed the main roads and banned the Palestinian public from travelling from one city or village to another.
The governorate official said that the taxi carrying the two women had reached the Israeli Ennab checkpoint, south of Tulkarem, where the taxi was covered by floods and carried away for several kilometres. The two women and driver were announced missing on Tuesday evening, and Samah’s body was recovered yesterday after being found floating on top of the water. An hour later Hana’s body was recovered as well. The official said that the Palestinian Civil Defence and rescue teams spent long hours in search for the women whose absence was reported by their Nablus based families when the rain got extremely heavy. However, the attempts of the Palestinian rescue teams were in vain.
Once their bodies were rescued the medical teams of the Thabet Thabet Hospital in Tulkarem pronounced the two women dead. The driver was admitted to the ICU after he was found alive in his cab. The families of the victims announced that Samah was engaged to a relative who lives in the US and was supposed to tie the knot and travel to live with her husband and that Hana was unmarried. The Nablus Governorate mourned the two women and announced their bodies had been handed to their families for burial. Palestinian Civil Defence Departmet announced on Wednesday that at least 500 Palestinians were wounded and 400 houses were covered with the rain water through out the West Bank. An official civil defence statement said that hundreds of Palestinians were rescued when their cases were reported to the department’s officials who were put on highest alert.