Wednesday, January 16, 2008

At least three Lebanese freeze to death in recent cold snap

At least three Lebanese freeze to death in recent cold snap
By Mira Borji
Daily Star staff

BEIRUT: At least three people have died in a cold wave that has swept Lebanon over the last two weeks, with weather forecasters expecting the freezing temperatures to ease on Wednesday. Environmental expert Wilson Rizk told The Daily Star on Tuesday that the cold wave had resulted from two factors: global warming and air pollution. "When carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are trapped in the atmosphere, this will lead to boosting global warming and contributing to climate change," Rizk said. "Therefore," he added, "the summer season witnesses high temperatures and drought, while low temperatures and storms prevail in winter." According to Rizk, Lebanon is currently affected by cold winds coming out of the north. "Such northern winds cause temperatures to drop without rainfalls," he said. "We are used to such sort of winds, but this year is exceptional." "Last year, for example, the temperature along the coast reached 9 degrees Celsius, a relatively low temperature, but this year temperatures have dropped to less than 5 degrees, even in Beirut," he added. "This is really an unprecedented phenomenon." The weather in Lebanon will be partly cloudy, with temperatures increasing gradually, according to the forecast from the Civil Aviation Department at the Rafik Hariri International Airport on Wednesday. Ice layers will continue to form on mountainous roads and in the Bekaa Valley, primarily at night and in the early morning. The forecast added that the Eastern Basin of the Mediterranean Sea would be affected by cold fronts. The temperature is expected to range between 1 and 16 degrees Celsius along the coast, between zero and 8 degrees in the Cedars and between -5 and 11 degrees in the Bekaa Valley. Northern to northeasterly winds will blow at a speed ranging between 8 and 25 kilometers per hour.

The director general of the Lebanese Agricultural Research Institute, Michel Frem, told the national News Agency (NNA) that temperature would not drop below freezing levels as of Wednesday. "The temperature along the coast is expected to vary between 3-4 degrees Celsius, while in the Bekaa Valley it will lift from 10 degrees below zero Celsius to -5," he said. "The cold wave will continue until the end of the week but with higher temperatures," Frem added. He also urged the Lebanese, particularly farmers, to take the necessary precautions in order to avoid further losses in their agricultural crops. "Farmers are called to warm up plastic greenhouses, water their crops and burn tires when ice layers start to appear," he said. The Bekaa Valley's agricultural fields were the worst-hit by the current bitterly cold weather, with some farmers estimating losses at $3 million. "We urge the government to compensate us for the loss inflicted on our main source of living," farmer Wadih Nabhan told the NNA.

In addition to inflicting heavy losses on farmers, the chill since last week has claimed the lives of at least three people who froze to death. In the northern town of Tripoli, Ali Hammoud, 70, died on Monday when temperatures dropped well below freezing levels, causing him to have a heart attack. Hammoud was a homeless man from the southern region of Jwayya but had lived in Tripoli for the last several years. In the southern region of Bint Jbeil, two people have frozen to death. Two others were killed in a car accident that resulted from icy roads on Monday. In the village of Labweh in the region of Baalbek, farmer Yahya Hussein Shamas was killed as icy roads caused his tractor to crash. The icy roads also caused several car accidents that resulted in injuries across the country over the past two days.

No comments:

Naharnet Lebanon News

Marketing in Lebanon