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Five killed as heavy rain, winds lash Morocco

by Staff Writers
Tangiers, Morocco (AFP) Dec 24, 2009
Heavy rains and gale force winds battered parts of Morocco, killing at least five people and flooding large parts of the northern city of Tangiers, local authorities said on Thursday.

Torrential rains lashed the Agadir region, where three people were killed when the vehicle they were travelling in was swept away by flood waters close to the the Tazentout river, officials said.

In Casablanca, western Morocco, two buildings collapsed in the city's old quarter, killing two people and injuring 19, media reports said on Thursday.

Several roads were blocked and rail traffic around Tangiers was suspended, the rail service said.

Winds of up to 80 kilometres an hour (50 miles an hour) hit the Strait of Gibraltar, creating seven-metre high waves.

Traditional ferry services between Morocco and Spain are so far unaffected, said Ahmed Atmani, regional director for the North African country's national port authority.

Atmani added, however, that high-speed catamaran links had been suspended until weather conditions improve.

Meteorologists said the amount of rainfall reached 23.3 millimetres (one inch), causing flooding in several parts of Tangiers.

Officials shut schools and called for companies in the affected areas to send their employees home earlier than expected.

In Tetouan, northern Morocco, rains and gusty winds saw civil protection officers stepping in to evacuate people from their homes.

Interior Minister Chakib Benmoussa stressed that the government was equipped and ready to help those areas affected by the bad weather.

"The authorities remain mobilised to respond to any emergency," he said on Thursday.

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