CAIRO (AP) — Thunderstorms packing heavy rains and lightning caused widespread flooding across Egypt on Thursday, killing at least five people and injuring five others as officials shuttered schools, government offices and an airport, officials said.
A child died and five people were injured when floods demolished their houses in a rural area in the southern province of Qena, where lightning ignited several fires. Also in Qena, a motorist was killed when storm winds blew his car into a canal.
Photos and video footage from around the country of flooded roads, damaged bus shelters and broken windows circulated on social media.
In western New Valley province, a technician was electrocuted while trying to fix a lighting column that went off due to the rain, local officials said.
In southern Sohag province, a 35-year-old bystander died under the rubble of a wall that had been knocked down by wind.
A 60-year-old man was electrocuted as he walked down the street in his village in the Delta province of Menoufeya.
Authorities had shut down Luxor International Airport, a key hub for tourists, and three seaports — the Mediterranean port of Alexandria and the Red Sea ports of Sharm el-Sheikh and Hurghada.
Nile River cruises between the southern cities of Luxor and Aswan, which harbor most of ancient Egypt’s monuments, were suspended and several key highways were shut down.
Officials earlier in the week announced that schools would be closed and suspended work in businesses and government offices because of the pending storm system after forecasters warned of heavy rains and flooding across much of the country through Saturday.
The prime minister’s office on Wednesday advised Egyptians to stay home, prompting hundreds of people to line up outside grocery stores to stock up on supplies for the weekend.
Chaos always accompanies bad weather in Egypt, raising questions about the country’s poor infrastructure and dilapidated sewage and drainage systems. In October, heavy rains that slammed the capital Cairo and other parts of the country flooded key roads, causing massive traffic jams and leaving at least eight people dead, including four children.