Storms wreak havoc in Middle East

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Tom Joyce

BY TOM JOYCE

@tomfruitnet

Storms wreak havoc in Middle East

Heavy rain, high winds, snowstorms and sandstorms caused devastation in a number of Middle Eastern countries at the weekend

Storms wreak havoc in Middle East

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Huge storms pummeled the eastern Mediterranean over the weekend, ending the long drought and causing destruction in several countries.

Lebanon, Israel, Syria, Jordan and Egypt were all hit, receiving a mixture of heavy rain, hail, snow and sandstorms.

Lebanon experienced winds of 100 kilometres an hour along its coast, causing damage to the country's banana plantations, according to Hicham Ayloush of Beirut-based exporter Aimex.

"Other products, including a whole range of vegetables will also have been hit," he told Fruitnet.com. "However, these are mostly grown in the mountains and in the Beqaa Valley, the route to which is blocked by snow, so we don't know what the conditions are like.

"The weather has also affected distribution. Roads between the coast and the mountains are blocked, as are vegetable imports from Jordan. In the last two days, nothing has arrived."

In Egypt, sandstorms, high winds and heavy rain disrupted shipping in the Suez Canal, as well as affecting the strawberry season, according to Ahmed El-Hodaiby of exporter Trade Waves.

"The sandstorms prevented the use of airfreight for three days," he said. "They also made it impossible to continue harvesting our strawberries. The weather has now returned to normal, so harvesting has resumed, but the fruit is showing some skin damage and there are a few broken trees."

Meanwhile, Jordan experienced heavy sandstorms and rainfall, while the Syrian capital, Damascus, was hit by a snowstorm.

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