Flash floods leave two dead in the Eastern Med

Streams, rivers and wadis burst their banks as violent storms hit Israel and the Palestinian Territories.

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    Torrential downpours have caused flash flooding in Israel and the Palestinian Territories. Two teenagers were killed as the raging waters swept across the Holy Land.

    One youngster, aged 16, died in the Negev desert region of southern Israel after being washed 3 kilometres away by the violent waters as streams there rapidly overflowed.

    Elsewhere, a 17-year-old Palestinian girl died in the desert hills east of Bethlehem in the West Bank when she was also swept away.

    The deadly storms developed over the Sinai Peninsula in the form of an intense area of low pressure. The thundery downpours were accompanied by large hail and gusty winds.

    The small Egyptian city of El Tor, situated at the northern end of the Red Sea had 99mm of rain in the 24 hours up to 06:00 GMT on Wednesday.

    Although the showers were not as intense further north, they were heavy enough to cause widespread disruption. Safed which is in the north of Israel amassed 21mm of rain in 12 hours.

    Central Jerusalem had 10mm of rainfall in 24 hours but unofficial accounts suggest that as much as 50mm may have fallen in places.

    There was even one report of 25mm of rain falling just one hour in Tel Aviv.

    Many roads were closed across the city leading to widespread disruption and the airport was closed for a time.

    The heavy downpours caused flooding across other parts of the country, stranding cars and causing heavy traffic. In some places, people reported seeing hail as big as ping pong balls.

    The strong and gusty winds around the thundery showers also whipped up sandstorms in the Arava Desert in the south of the Dead Sea Basin.

    There were also visibility problems in Syria where strong and gusty winds circulating around the same area of low pressure caused another sandstorm, which shrouded Damascus in a blanket of yellow dust.

    The worst of the stormy weather is now moving east, but it will be a gradual process. Israel and the West Bank can expect further showers on Friday with the heaviest showers easing across Syria and Iraq as we go through the weekend.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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