The Health Ministry said on Saturday that approximately 18 people have been killed and 72 injured following three days of heavy flooding in different governorates across Egypt, according to state media.
The ministry statement recorded one injury and nine deaths in North Sinai, five injured in Beni Suef governorate, eight killed and 23 injured in Sohag governorate, and nine dead and 35 injured in the town of Ras Gharb in Red Sea governorate, all due to flash floods.
It is expected that emergency vehicles were deployed to the affected areas to aid in the removal of accumulated water. The continuation of flooding issues and fatalities has reignited criticism from activists and public figures regarding the state’s failure to produce proper counter-measures. Many are saying that while several decisions were made, the implementation of preventative measures and safeguards has yet to be seen.
The ire of Egypt’s communities was not placated on Friday evening when the Minister of Social Solidarity Ghada Wally announced EGP 10,000 compensation to be paid to families that lost loved ones and EGP 2,000 for those wounded. Activists channelled their anger through social media, saying the financial compensation is not the solution and that the crisis should be immediately confronted so that future lives would not be at stake.
Prime Minister Sherif Ismail announced the allocation of EGP 50m for repairing infrastructure in the town of Ras Gharb, which suffered some of the most extensive damages, following his tour of the area of the area with the Red Sea governor.
During the tour, the prime minister visited several affected areas and listened to residents’ suggestions on not only ways to repair the water-ravaged structures and roads but also what the town needs to confront the floods. Ismail said a committee should be formed within a week to compensate those families that were affected by the floods.
Local urban activist Atef Amin told Daily News Egypt: “It is well-known by the state that flooding occurs here every year at the end of October, nonetheless the state never has any preparations to show for it and neglects significant procedures that should be implemented to protect families.’’
Amin explained that there are several areas in the country with weak infrastructure and drainage systems that require reinvestment and reconstruction, highlighting that most of these areas are located beside mountainous regions which are susceptible to damage from floods and weather changes, leaving residents lives at risk. A possible solution, he suggested, is for families of these areas be evacuated to more secure areas until the construction of more suitable buildings is complete.
Red Sea governor Ahmed Abduallah commented on Friday on the level of flooding that occurred in Ras Gharb over the past two days to privately-owned newspaper Al-Youm Al-Sabaa: “unprecedented and even emergency vehicles may not be enough.”
Abduallah noted that the armed forces assigned petroleum companies to send vehicles that would be able to extract accumulated water from the impacted areas.
The floodwaters have blocked roads, downed power lines, and hindered the flow of traffic in many streets of the affected governorates, which has increased the possibility of accidents and has caused more casualties.
Floodwaters are also to blame for a multi-vehicle collision between two buses and several passenger vehicles on the highway between the governorates of Sohag and Qena early Friday morning, which killed six and injured 24.
Last week, the chairperson of Egypt’s Meteorological Authority Ahmed Abdel-Aal announced that Egypt was expected to witness heavy weather patterns from Wednesday; however, no preparations were carried out.
It was reported by local media outlets that prior to the prime minister’s tour several families of the Ras Gharb area reportedly attempted to prevent him from inspecting the town. Residents even allegedly blocked the road in protest to the power outages and flooded streets, but the prime minister insisted on inspecting the town.
Deaths from flooding are a yearly phenomenon in many coastal and delta cities, which witness flooding throughout the winter season. Poor infrastructure is largely the cause of the yearly deaths.
The flood casualties continued this year despite several pledges made by the government in 2015 to counteract them. During the last three months of 2015, Egypt witnessed heavy rainfall and flooding in Alexandria and Beheira that caused death of more than 20 people and serious damage in both provinces.
The situation last year in Alexandria and Behaira forced the prime minister to enact emergency measures for the rehabilitation of irrigation and drainage networks. The president also pledged to allocate funds to rebuild damages and support those who were affected by severe floods.