Heavy rains cause flooding, killing at least 287 in Algeria

Sunday, November 11, 2001

ALGIERS, Algeria -- Violent winds and heavy rain lashed northern Algeria, collapsing buildings, flooding roads and killing at least 287 people, authorities said Saturday.

Torrential rains began drenching Algiers on Friday, causing muddy waters to rush through city streets and several buildings in one of the city's poorer sections to crumble to the ground. Authorities said the death toll in Algiers alone was 280.

Throughout Algiers, residents waded in waist-deep water trying to reach safety, and traffic came to a standstill as roads became impassable because of high waters, felled trees and debris. At least four people were killed in vehicle crashes.

Interior Minister Nourredine Yazid Zerhouni visited the most affected neighborhoods, and urged residents to stay home Sunday to keep roads open for emergency and rescue vehicles.

Muddy brown water raced down the grand staircases that dot the hilly city on the Mediterranean. Many ground-floor apartments were inundated, and telephone lines were cut.

With power lines exposed or felled, utility provider Sonelgaz cut power to several areas to lower the risk of electrocution.

At least 250 people were injured, the Civil Protection Authority said.

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