Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 29 January 2020

Lebanon floods increase anti-government anger

Torrential rain brings traffic to standstill in many areas of country

Flooding in Lebanon sparked more anger against the government on Monday, nearly two months after protests erupted against decades of mismanagement by the ruling elite.

“Lebanon is drowning” was trending on Twitter after heavy rain hit the country on Sunday.

Videos and photos of flooded roads and leaking government offices were widely shared on social media as more examples of politicians' failure to provide decent infrastructure to the Lebanese since the end of the civil war in 1990.

“Welcome to the Beirut-Rafic Hariri International Airport: a fitting legacy for Hariri, besides the toilets," tweeted Lebanese journalist Lara Bitar under a video of passengers dodging water dripping from the ceiling as they pulled their luggage.

Water seeped into several offices at the airport and the arrival and departure halls, the state-run National News Agency reported. Nearby roads were flooded, causing massive traffic jams.

Another video, showing people wading through water in a corridor of a Labour Ministry building, went viral on Twitter.

Men kayaked along roads in the southern suburbs of Beirut, leading many to jokingly compare the Lebanese capital to the Italian city of Venice.

“This political class has turned Beirut into the Venice of the Middle East," satirist Karl Sharro tweeted.

Perhaps the most widely commented video showed dozens of submerged cars on a highway in Ouzai, a suburb in South Beirut.

“The water entered shops and homes” in the area, NNA reported.

In a tunnel near by, drivers had to abandon their cars to escape the rising water on foot.

Roads in the southern suburbs were reopened by Monday afternoon.

The caretaker Minister of Public Works, Youssef Fenianos, blamed MEAS, a private company affiliated to the national carrier Middle East Airlines, for the flooding in Ouzai tunnel.

Mr Fenianos said he “understood the suffering of the people but there are difficulties in disbursing the credits due to the financial crisis that the country is going through”.

The rain turned to snow in Lebanon’s mountains, closing a major highway in the remote region of Hermel.

Updated: December 10, 2019 10:06 AM

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