Naharnet

Storm Wreaks Havoc across Lebanon, Forcing Suspension of Flights, Classes

Violent winds caused havoc in several Lebanese regions on Tuesday as Storm Zina arrived in full throttle at the eastern basin of the Mediterranean Sea.

The storm forced a brief closure of Beirut's Rafik Hariri International Airport.

Air traffic was halted at 7:00 pm (1500 GMT) with Lebanon buffeted by heavy winds, snow and flooding in some places. Flights resumed about an hour later.

Meanwhile, Education Minister Elias Bou Saab ordered the closure of all private, public and vocational schools on Wednesday.

“We leave the decision to the Lebanese University and the private universities on whether or not they should suspend classes tomorrow,” Bou Saab told LBCI television.

Snow crowned the mountains as seawater invaded some restaurants and destroyed fishermen boats in coastal areas.

“The situation is disastrous in the Jnah area and seawater has destroyed everything at the shore,” Future TV reported.

Speaking to the same TV network, the head of the fishermen's syndicate said “most boats were smashed” by the fierce winds.

“We urge the mufti, the Higher Relief Commission and the state to help us, because Jnah has turned into a disaster area,” he added.

State-run Traffic Management Center reported that high waves stormed some of the restaurants at the Jbeil Port.

In the north, power supply and telephone services were cut off in the Batroun area, according to the National News Agency.

Furthermore, rising sea tide grounded all fishing activity in the city, the agency said.

In Tyre, winds damaged crops and citrus and banana groves, uprooting several greenhouses, as activity was suspended at the southern city's port due to high waves.

The storm will continue to lash Lebanon over the coming few days, according to a report by the meteorology department at the Rafik Hariri International Airport.

Rainy skies with thunderstorms and active winds are expected to dominate Wednesday's weather, as temperatures take a sharp plunge and snowfall begins at 600 meters above sea level.

Gusting winds will reach a speed of a 110 km/hr, especially in mountainous regions, the department said, urging citizens to practice caution.

Y.R.


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