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Deadly Yemen flash floods damage historic mud-brick town

May 6, 2021 at 3:09 pm

People are seen amid muds on damaged streets hit by a flood due to heavy rain in Sanaa, Yemen on 7 August 2020 [Mohammed Hamoud/Anadolu Agency]

Flash floods in Yemen brought on by heavy torrential rain have left several people dead and caused widespread damage to homes and buildings in the historic town of Tarim, in the eastern province of Hadhramaut, currently under the governance of the UN-recognised government.

The flooding, which started in the middle of last month, is said to have intensified in recent days with at least five deaths reported on Sunday. According to Arab News, a family of three was killed by debris after a house collapsed in the torrent.

“People have never seen such heavy flooding for the last three decades,” one resident is quoted as saying.

Thousands of families already affected by the war and the impact of the coronavirus pandemic are also said to be directly affected by the floods.

READ: Yemen’s mud-brick palace ‘at risk of collapse’

The UN humanitarian agency, OCHA said on Tuesday: “Initial reports indicate some 3,730 families (22,380 people) have been affected by the rains and flooding, the majority of whom are internally displaced people.”

“Intensified rainfall over the past few days is causing damage to infrastructure, destroying homes and shelter and causing deaths and injuries.”

Flooding has also caused extensive damage in the provinces of Aden, Abyan, Daleh Lahj, Marib and Taiz.

The Ministry of Culture in the Houthi-led government based in the capital Sanaa has called on UNESCO to intervene in saving the historic town. A statement by the ministry said that Tarim is one of the most important Islamic historical cities not only in Yemen but also in the world, due to its unique Islamic architecture which includes mud-brick Al-Muhdhar Mosque, which has the tallest minaret in the country.

The Prime Minister of the Saudi-based Yemeni government, Maeen Abdulmalik Saeed, has allocated $7.9 million for the damage caused. Saeed visited the province last month after having fled to Riyadh in March.

READ: US, Saudi hold discussions on political solution to Yemen war