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Sunday, 15 March 2020

21 dead as ‘Dragon storm’ pummels Egypt

21 people have been reported dead after rain, wind, sand and lightning pummeled the country in what has been dubbed a ‘dragon storm.’ The downpour on Thursday and Friday caused widespread power outages, travel disruption and infrastructure damage as roads flooded and several buildings collapsed. Ten people died when a building collapsed in the Al Zarayeb suburb in Helwan and in Qena a six-year-old child was killed after a tree fell on his family’s home. Speaking at a press conference, Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly described the level of rainfall as unprecedented in recent decades.

Businesses, government, banks and the EGX had all closed their doors in anticipation of the extreme weather and Thursday was declared a school holiday last week after the national weather service said that sandstorms and heavy rains would hit the country.

The weather was a factor in the collision of two passenger trains in Cairo on Thursday afternoon, leaving 13 injured and rail services to be suspended for the rest of the day, Ahram Online reports. Four officials at the Railway Authority have been detained for four days over the accident pending investigation, Egypt Today reports.

Apocalyptic scenes of orange skies and flooded streets circulated on social media: An eyewitness video posted to social media appeared to show a drowned man floating face down in a flooded street. New Cairo saw water running down many of its main roads and residents posted videos of sinks running in reverse, overflowing with rainwater, and of flooded basements and living rooms. Sand and dust could be seen covering much of the country’s sky Thursday morning.

The story made global headlines at outlets including the Associated Press | Reuters | The National | Gulf News.

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