x

Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 18 December 2018

Torrential downpour unearths landmines in Kuwait

Warnings as 48 mines found in the western desert of Kuwait

A car is swept away on a damaged road following heavy rain in Kuwait City, Kuwait, 15 November 2018. EPA/NOUFAL IBRAHIM
A car is swept away on a damaged road following heavy rain in Kuwait City, Kuwait, 15 November 2018. EPA/NOUFAL IBRAHIM

Torrential downpour in Kuwait this month has uncovered 48 landmines in the country's desert — presumed remnants of the 1991 Gulf War.

Complaints were filed to the Ministry of Interior by residents of Al Jahra, a large neighbourhood west of Kuwait City, claiming to have found odd objects in the desert.

The reports prompted the ministry to launch an investigation. This led to a demining operation in which 48 explosive devices were found and deactivated, said the ministry.

Kuwait experienced more rain in the last two weeks than it has since records began. By some estimates, there was 25 centimetres of rain over four days, more precipitation than the country receives on average in one year.

Many new areas in Kuwait flooded heavily, causing 100 million Kuwait dinars (Dh1.2 billion) in damages, killing one and prompting the government to take extreme measures.

The Cabinet of Ministers suspended work and schools for three days. Kuwait’s stock market closed last week, and the Minister of Public Works, Hussam Al Roumi, resigned.

___________

Middle East weather

Jeddah storm warning as deadly floods sweep across Saudi Arabia

Eight months of rain in one day in UAE

Death toll from Jordan floods rises to 13

___________

The discovery of the mines is among a long list of problems that have been brought to light by the rains. Several cities in the arid GCC are ill-equipped to deal with the occasional torrential downpours, which cause fatal flash floodings.

Saudi Arabia reported 30 residents were killed in recent weeks from flooding and electrocution.

The Kuwaiti Ministry of Interior has issued a warning to residents before the camping season to take caution when traversing open desert and advised them to set up tents in allocated camp sites.

The authorities have also urged residents not to tamper with any undistinguishable items in the desert and to call emergency serves immediately.

Kuwait is expecting more rains on Thursday, with the Directorate of Civil Aviation saying that the weather will experience instability.