Heavy rain causes floods, paralyzes Lebanon's capital

Heavy rain causes floods, paralyzes Lebanon's capital
Heavy rain triggered flooding that paralyzed Lebanon's capital Beirut on Monday, stranding drivers and damaging some homes.

The storms, which began Sunday morning, impacted the entire country but hit Beirut and its suburbs the hardest.

Motorists were stranded in the southern suburb of Ouzai after vehicles became submerged in the floodwaters. When pumps used to clear water from a tunnel under Rafik Hariri International Airport stopped working, authorities closed the tunnel for hours.

A man was seen using a surfboard to pass through the tunnel, while in other parts of the city some residents used small boats to get around.

Outgoing Minister of Public Works and Transpiration Youssef Fenianos blamed the crisis on what he said was 50-year-old infrastructure and population increases in some areas. He added that as a result of Lebanon's recent economic and financial crisis, it was difficult to open lines of credit for infrastructure work.

"I am ready to take full responsibility," the minister said during a news conference.

The flooding came as protesters have been holding nearly two months of demonstrations against the country's political elite and decades of widespread corruption and mismanagement. Protesters remained in their encampments in Beirut and other cities amid the heavy rain.

Despite spending billions of dollars since the 1975-90 civil war on improving infrastructure, Lebanon still suffers hours long electricity cuts every day, and many people rely on tanker trucks to bring water to their homes. Every year when it rains, roads get flooded with water because of an inadequate sewage system.

Fenianos was part of the Cabinet of former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who resigned Oct. 29 under fire from the anti-government protesters. A stalemate has since ensued over who should head the new government amid a deepening economic crisis, shortage of liquidity and hard currency.

Source: The Associated Press