Four dead as storm hits Middle East
Heavy rain and fierce winds pummeled countries across the Middle East on Sunday, killing three people in Egypt and a woman in Lebanon. The stormy weather prompted Egypt to close its largest Mediterranean port.
The storm caused temperatures to plunge to below freezing in some high places. It whipped up sand storms in Egypt and Jordan, while in Syria snow blanketed the streets of Damascus for the first time this winter.
Heavy rain and strong winds battered cities along the Mediterranean coast. According to the AP, Syrian authorities closed their main port of Tartous, while 4-meter waves forced Egypt to shut down the port of Alexandria as well as another in Nuweiba.
In the Gaza Strip, strong winds and lashing rains caused cracks in the pier and the breakfront at the harbor local fishermen use. No one was hurt.
Heavy rains flooded the streets in Beirut and snow forced some road closures in remote mountain towns in the country. A woman died Saturday night when an uprooted tree fell on her car in the northern port city of Tripoli, authorities said. Flights in and out of Beirut's international airport were delayed.
Egypt was hit by rain and winds reaching speeds of up to 60 kilometers per hour in Alexandria on its north coast. Officials said the collapse of a six-story textiles factory in the city that was originally attributed in part to rain was in fact not weather-related. Three people were killed in this incident.
Jordan also wrestled with sand storms kicked up by winds reaching up to 90 kilometers per hour, police said. Visibility was severely limited, and authorities closed major highways in the eastern desert linking Jordan with Iraq and southern roads leading to the ancient city of Petra.