Egypt police clash with protesters over flood crisis
|Saturday, January 23,2010 13:05|
Egyptian police employed tear gas and rubber bullets on Wednesday in order to disperse residents in a Sinai town hit hard by recent flooding in the area and a perceived lack of governmental preparedness in assisting the people in the area. The reports come as the Hisham Mubarak Law Center (HMLC) condemned Cairo’s poor response to the flooding, which has left hundreds, if not more, homeless, at least 11 dead and scores more injured in Egypt’s worst flooding in over a decade.
According to local reports, two policemen were injured in the clashes, while residents of Abu Sweira on Sinai’s west coast reported at least one person being hit by a rubber bullet.
Nearly 1,000 residents of the town used their trucks to block the main road to the resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh, burning tires and throwing stones at police in the frustration.
Egyptian police have reported that a British tourist was also killed when their yacht capsized due to the poor weather conditions along the Nile. Egypt’s capital, Cairo, received a brief downpour Monday morning, with a number of cars losing control and causing minor damage.
According to police reports from the popular Red Sea resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh, one woman was killed, the airport roof was damaged and dozens of people are still missing.
The heavy rains and floods caused a lot of devastating results to the clay based walls of the poor houses, forcing families to take refuge in the streets.
The human rights center visited the village of Abu el-Rish in southern Egypt, reporting the many families have slept outdoors after losing their houses, while only two governmental water vacuum trucks were being employed in an effort to dry out the streets. Meanwhile, the residents used water containers and team efforts to get rid of the water with no extra help from the governorate of Aswan, the center said.
The town was hit by a similar flood disaster in the 1980s, which resulted in the deaths of two local women and numerous injuries.
Bikya Masr contacted the governate of Aswan but was met with no reply.
The Law center added that the government has given each homeless family a LE 100 allowance (around $18) and distributed a set meal consisting of a juice box, two pieces of cheese and bread.
The governmental meal was turning into a laughable story in the village, who is currently relying on help from neighbors and volunteers, the center said, adding that the government is doing too little to help the situation.
Israel temporarily closed its border crossings with Egypt and Jordan as a result of the heavy rains and a bridge collapsed near a cargo crossing between Egypt and Israel.
Flooding also wiped out communication lines in Sharm el-Sheik and destroyed two dozen homes in Ras Sidr.
In the Red-sea port of Hurghada a woman drowned when flooding swept her off the main road.
Five Egyptian ports were closed due to the unpredictable weather.