Old City of Sana’a threatened with collapse


YEMEN – Tens of houses in three governorates collapsed due to heavy rains. The continuing heavy rains in recent days have caused property damages, financial losses and deaths in several governorates.

One woman has died, tens of houses have collapsed, animals have been lost, and expanses of agricultural areas and roads have been washed away resulting in tens of millions of riyals in losses.

The heavy rains also caused the collapse of two houses in old Sana’a in the Khidair area, which resulted in the death of one woman.

Mutahar Taki, the Deputy Minister of Tourism, said that many of the Old Sana’a houses are susceptible to collapse because of the heavy rains, adding that the collapse of the two houses in the Khidair area are an indication of the dangers that face many of the Old City’s houses.

He insisted that the government and the relevant bodies take quick measures to protect the Old City, by undertaking the restoration and rehabilitation of the houses in the Old City. He also bemoaned the lack of equipment required to do the necessary work to preserve the Old City.

The Deputy Minister repeated his call to the Historical City Preservation Authority to fulfill their duties in preserving the historical cities, accusing them of failing to act to avoid the disaster that faces the historical Old City of Sana’a and its residents. He added that the Historical City Preservation Authority isn’t concerned with what is happening to the Old City and that they excuse themselves behind different illogical pretexts.

Abdurrahman al-Akwa, the State Minister and the Capital’s Mayor, made an inspection tour to the sites of the two collapsed houses. He promised the citizens of the Old City during the tour to take measures to save some of the dilapidated houses and told them not to panic, saying that there are only some houses, not all, that need restoration because they are endangering their residents’ lives.

Elsewhere in the country, in al-Baidha, 12 houses collapsed in the al-Awadh area due to flash floods.

Parliament member, Sheikh Yaser al-Awadhi, said that tens of families are still stranded due to flooding which has surrounded the area for three days.
He explained that the floods killed tens of thousands of animals which were washed away and that tens of wells with their pumps were buried, and farm lands and roads were also washed away.
The al-Awadh District’s General Manager also reported similar tragedies. He said that the community is still exerting efforts to provide help to the stranded families in surrounding villages.

It is notable that the people in the Radman and al-Awadh Districts say that they haven’t experienced such heavy rains and floods for tens of years.
In a related issue, water rose to its highest level in the Martyr Ahmed Salem’s dam, and extended three kilometers back from the dam. The dam has a capacity of 2,400,000 cubic meters and a base 17 meters high and 20 meters wide.
Houses also collapsed in the Thamar governorate, two of which were entirely destroyed.

Thamar General Local Secretary, Mohammed al-Khabji, announced that an operation room has been established to receive reports and coordinate relief to the affected people.

Similarly, local authorities in a number of other Yemeni governorates have established specialized committees to evaluate the damage due to the heavy rains and the flash floods that come from the mountain tops.

The Deputy Governor of the Sana’a Governorate, Abdulmalik al-Ghrabi said that a local committee has also been formed to assess the damages in the different areas that were affected by the floods. He added that a field team has managed to re-open some of the affected roads in the Bani Bahlol and Sanhan areas.

Al-Ghrabi pointed out that the water level rose to significant levels in several districts, and that the heavy rains raised water levels at six dams in the Altial area.

He added that the governorates’ authorities ordered the establishment of field teams to assess the damages to agricultural lands and roads in the Sahar and Bani Bahlol areas, as they were the most affected by the flash floods.

Taiz Governor Hamoud Khalid al-Sufi inspected the damages to houses and roads in the Mocha area, including the damage caused to the international road which connects Mocha with Khokha, Baitkhal, al-Zahawi and al-Rois.

Al-Sufi and the Coastal Area Assistant Governor listened to reports from experts about the reasons for the erosion of large areas at the edge of the tarmac road, for the pooling of water around the road which effected the asphalt layer, and for the blockage of the drainage outlets.

The governor also inspected 20 houses that were flooded and immersed under flash flood waters, as well as areas where livestock were washed away and bee farms were damaged.

The governor verified the safety of the area and directed that the Mocha area be sprayed with pesticides to fight mosquitoes and that all the drainage channels be cleared of any debris.