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Environment

Storms hit Israel, Egypt

media Cairo was hidden in fog during cold weather on Saturday Reuters/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

Winds of over 100 km per hour lashed Israel on Saturday, knocking down power lines and trees and sweeping one person into the sea. Egypt closed 10 ports because of high waves and sandstorms.

In the Israeli coastal city of Netanya, a 41-year-old Russian tourist was blown off the promenade into the sea and was missing and feared dead, public radio reported.

Police were unable to search for the missing man because of the stormy seas, it reported.

The winds knocked down power lines and trees, causing power cuts across Israel, said the state-run Electricity Company. The Parks Authority shut several nature
reserves in the southern Negev desert because of the possibility of flash floods.

Weathermen warned that there could be floods in large parts of the country, especially in the area hit by last week's devastating forest fire near the port city of Haifa in northern Israel.

The storm, which is expected to peak on Saturday night, brings the first rains of the winter about two months late and comes after a long period of drought which was one of the main causes of the fire.

Jalal Bissan, a student travelling on a bus full of prison guards which was caught in the blaze, died from his injuries Saturday, bringing the death toll to 43.

Egypt on Saturday closed 10 of its ports on the Red Sea and the Mediterranean because of sandstorms and high waves, maritime officials said.

Officials at the Red Sea Ports Authority said the ports "will reopen as soon as the weather improves".

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