Sun, Oct 26, 2008 - Page 6 News List

Emergency aid arrives as 47 die in Yemen storms

AFP , SANAA

Airborne rescue operations swung into action yesterday in Yemen after floods killed 41 people and six more died after being struck by lightning in fierce storms that swept the country, officials said.

The latest toll from emergency services and local authorities said 41 people died in flooding fed by torrential downpours that hit the provinces of Hadramaut and Mahara on Thursday and Friday.

At least six aircraft took off from the Yemeni capital Sanaa yesterday carrying tents, food and medicine for the Hadramaut capital Al-Mukalla and Mahara, airport officials said.

“Other airlifts are scheduled for later in the day,” one official said, adding that public and private organizations had joined ranks to help the victims of the disaster.

Authorities said four people were killed by lightning in the southern provinces of Tayez and Lahj, and a mother and son also died when struck by lightning in the Al-Mahwit region north of the capital Sanaa.

Rescue coordinators said that among the victims were seven people who perished in Al-Mukalla, which is located on the shores of the Arabian Sea.

Hadramaut and Mahra were declared disaster zones on Friday.

Bad weather continued to batter southeastern coastal regions yesterday as the airlift into the stricken areas began.

On Friday military helicopters and others operated by oil firms battled strong winds as they fought to rescue thousands of people stranded by the floods, according to one emergency official.

Authorities said that more than 500 houses were destroyed across Hadramaut Province, where 3,500 families were made homeless, and that flooding also caused heavy damage to roads and power and water distribution networks.

An official said that among the affected areas was the UNESCO world heritage site of Shibam, which was totally cut off by the flood waters and its historic buildings were threatened with collapse.

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