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SHAKE AND BLOW
Heavy rains force closure of Dubai Airshow, UAE schools
by Staff Writers
Dubai (AFP) Nov 21, 2013


Saudi flood toll rises to seven
Riyadh (AFP) Nov 20, 2013 - Flash floods sparked by torrential rain in largely desert Saudi Arabia have killed seven people over the past three days, the civil defence authority said on Wednesday.

Five other people are still missing after parts of the capital Riyadh and the northeastern city of Arar were inundated, authority spokesman Colonel Abdullah al-Harithi told the official SPA news agency.

The storms that have accompanied the downpours have brought down power lines, sparking outages in parts of north Riyadh.

Schools and universities in the capital have been closed since Sunday.

Flooding of underpasses on major thoroughfares has sparked traffic chaos for Riyadh's more than five million residents.

Saudi Arabia normally experiences such low rainfall that religious leaders often organise special prayers for rain.

But in May last year, around 20 people were killed in flooding sparked by the kingdom's heaviest rainfall in 25 years.

Sardinia mourns flood dead, bad weather moves to mainland Italy
Rome (AFP) Nov 20, 2013 - The port city of Olbia in Sardinia held a day of mourning Wednesday and prepared to bury its dead after flash floods left 16 people on the island dead.

One person was still reported missing two days after heavy rain and high winds flooded homes, but the number of people in emergency shelter had been reduced from 2,700 to 1,700, Italy's civil protection agency said.

"The search for the missing person continues, as does the rescue operation. We think the road network will be usable by the end of the day," a member of the agency's press office told AFP.

The death toll of 16 was revised down from a figure of 18 announced by government on Tuesday.

Rain continued to fall overnight but caused no further damage to buildings or bridges on the island.

Olbia, a popular holiday destination in the summer months which was left almost entirely under water, declared a day of mourning and began organising funerals for six of the flood victims.

The bad weather crept across onto the mainland, flooding streets and felling trees in the south of the country, from the Calabria region to the capital.

Authorities in Calabria were preparing to declare a state of natural disaster after "floods and landslides which have caused damage and constitute a danger" for inhabitants.

In Rome, firemen were called out 150 times during the night to remove fallen trees from roads and pump water out of cellars. Ferries between Naples and nearby islands were also halted.

Heavy rains and flooding forced the annual airshow in Dubai to close early on its last day Thursday while schools in the desert Gulf state were ordered shut.

"The Dubai Airshow is closed for now, we advise people to refrain from travelling to the site," organisers said in an emailed statement.

Participants and visitors to the airshow that kicked off on Sunday posted on social networks pictures and videos of flooded exhibition halls.

No announcements of new deals had been expected Thursday as most manufacturers had on Wednesday given final figures of contracts sealed during the event.

As the turbulent weather swept across Gulf states, the United Arab Emirates ministry of education ordered public and private schools shut to ensure "students' safety," according to a statement carried by the official WAM news agency.

Local media reported several accidents that brought traffic to a near-halt in several areas of Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

Local media had reported Sunday that one man was killed when floods swept through a valley in the northern Ras al-Khaimah emirate.

Flash floods sparked by torrential rain have hit other Gulf neighbours, some of which normally experience such low precipitation that religious leaders often organise special prayers for rain.

In Saudi Arabia, seven people were killed in three days of rain, the kingdom's civil defence authority said on Wednesday, adding that five others were missing.

Meanwhile in Kuwait, civil defence authorities announced two people were killed as the amount of rainfall reached 100 millimetres (3.9 inches) in two days -- Monday and Tuesday -- equal to the average annual rainfall in the emirate.

Heavy rains have also been reported in Oman, Qatar and Bahrain.

Flooding in central, southern Iraq kills 11
Baghdad (AFP) Nov 20, 2013 - Flooding in central and southern Iraq killed at least 11 people as rising waters swamped city streets and toppled buildings, sparking anger over the dilapidated sewage system, officials said Wednesday.

Three days of driving rain led to flooding in the capital, as well as major cities in the south, including Nasiriyah, Diwaniyah and Hilla, sparking protests among residents angry over poor public services.

"What is happening is because of the government," said Ali Hussein, a protester in Nasiriyah.

"There must be real measures taken after what has happened. They should take things seriously, as the conditions here are really bad."

Six people died in building collapses caused by flooding in Nasiriyah, while two women and a child were killed in similar circumstances in Diwaniyah.

In Babil province, south of Baghdad, two children died as a result of collapsing buildings, while more than 50 families had to take shelter at a tourist resort after their houses flooded.

Authorities have in recent weeks tried to limit the damage of the rain by declaring national holidays, with one instituted earlier in the month.

Heavy rains in December 2012 caused severe flooding, prompting the government to take similar action.

Oil-rich Iraq is still plagued by crumbling infrastructure and poor services more than 10 years after the US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein, and Iraqis have long struggled with frequent power outages, high unemployment and rampant corruption.

Vietnam floods toll rises to 42: official
Hanoi (AFP) Nov 20, 2013 - Vietnamese authorities on Wednesday raised the death toll from severe floods that swept central provinces to 42, with five people still missing.

Nearly 430,000 houses have been inundated, damaged or destroyed, the flood and storm control department said in an online report, adding rains have now slackened and water has receded in some areas.

Local authorities had described the floods -- that hit the UNESCO-listed town of Hoi An and the former imperial City of Hue, along with other areas -- as the worst for over a decade, saying they had caused tens of millions of dollars worth of damage.

Media reports said water discharged by several hydropower plants in the region contributed to the scale of the flooding.

However Vietnam escaped the worst of Typhoon Haiyan 12 days ago as it weakened before striking the country's coast.

Hundreds of thousands of people were evacuated before the arrival of the typhoon, which had wreaked devastation on the Philippines.

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