News / Middle East

Thousands Evacuated from Gaza After Flooding

Palestinian rescue members help residents evacuate from a flooded area following heavy rains in Gaza City, Dec. 13, 2013.
Palestinian rescue members help residents evacuate from a flooded area following heavy rains in Gaza City, Dec. 13, 2013.
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Reuters
More than 4,000 people have been evacuated from flood-damaged homes in northern Gaza in what the United Nations has called “a disaster area”, officials said on Saturday.

Flooding has been so severe that access to many homes is by rowing boat and water is reported to be two meters (more than six feet) high in some places. Many people have been trapped inside inundated homes by rising waters.

The flooding is the result of four days of torrential rains.

“Large swathes of northern Gaza are a disaster area with water as far as the eye can see,” the United Nations Relief Works Agency (UNRWA) that administers refugee camps in the Palestinian territory, said in a statement.

The Gaza health ministry said 100 people had suffered injuries in the severe weather, which damaged poorly built homes in the coastal territory, including from car accidents on flooded roads, and items falling from inundated buildings.

Chris Gunness, an UNRWA spokesman, said areas near a refugee camp in northern Gaza “have become a massive lake with two-meter-high waters engulfing homes and stranding thousands.”

Thousands of agency workers were evacuating stranded Palestinians to U.N. shelters, Gunness said.

Gaza's Hamas government said 4,306 in all had been evacuated to schools and other centers used as makeshift shelters in the past four days.

Gaza's 1.8 million people has also been enduring around 12-hour blackouts daily since the lone power plant was switched off last month due to a fuel shortage.

One of the most densely populated tracts on earth, Gaza is home to mostly impoverished refugees and their descendants.

The territory lacks much basic civil infrastructure and lives under an Egyptian-Israeli blockade meant to cut off arms flows, but which also curbs imports of fuel, building supplies and basic goods.

Israel opened a main crossing with Gaza on Friday to allow in fuel supplies and four water pumps to help relieve flood damage.

Gaza's prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, urged the Arab League on Saturday to take steps to end the blockades of his territory, a statement from his office said.

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Comments
     
by: Popsiq from: Buganda
December 14, 2013 11:31 PM
The title should read "Thousands Evacuated IN Gaza".

Nobody is being removed from the crowded enclave, they're just being moved to other areas that aren't flooded. Which would mean into the war-damaged areas of the south and east.
According to reports, additional amounts of diesel fuel and 4 water pumps have been allowed into the enclave to assist with the emergency. The amount off ffuel is not specified but until recently that commodirty was still bbeing smugggled in from Egypt as the ''rationed amount" wasn't enough to run the sewage treatment plant which has been overflowing for almost two weeks.

On the bright side, the flooding might thin out the sewage contamination.

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