- Title: GAZA: Four killed as torrent of sewage sweeps through Gaza village
- Date: 27th March 2007
- Summary: VARIOUS OF PEOPLE REPAIRING DAMAGE PEOPLE WALKING NEAR POOL OF SEWAGE CLOSEUP OF SEWAGE FLOATING IN WATER CONSTRUCTION WORKERS ARRIVING ON SITE
- Embargoed: 11th April 2007 16:28
- Topics: Disasters / Accidents / Natural catastrophes
- Reuters ID: LVAA1J7SVZ1HBP2I5VHZ4D77XKOY
- Aspect Ratio: 4:3
- Story Text: At least four Palestinians have been killed and dozens more are unaccounted for after sewage flooded a village in the northern Gaza Strip.
A sewage reservoir burst next to a village in the northern Gaza Strip on Tuesday (March 27) , killing at least four people and injuring 20 in a torrent of putrid water and waste that buried their flimsy homes, officials said.
Dozens of residents of the small Bedouin village were still unaccounted for after the sewage overflowed from ground-level treatment pools in what one resident called a man-made tsunami.
Among the dead were two children, aged one and two.
When the pool overflowed, the sewage burst through fencing near the village of tin huts and Bedouin tents.
Parents waded through the sewage-filled streets, looking for missing family members. At least 25 makeshift homes were destroyed or completely buried.
Hundreds of civilians and members of rival Palestinian security forces took part in the rescue effort.
An Israeli Defence Ministry spokeswoman said the army was ordered to provide assistance to Palestinians.
The sewage erupted from a new reservoir built on high ground. Residents had objected to the project because of its location.
It was not immediately clear what caused the overflow, but residents blamed the municipal government for failing to tackle the mounting sewage problem.
Majed Abu Ramadan, mayor of Gaza, said the accident was the result of poor planning.
"This catastrophe did not start today or yesterday," he told Reuters.
"This catastrophe started perhaps some 15 or 20 years ago when the planning was defective, and it was planned to have it here. Of course, as the population increases, the sewage increases and then the capacity of the tank is exceeded. We know this, this is natural to happen but I think several times there was many voices raised to threaten that this might happen and, unfortunately, this happened at the end."
Local authorities have scant resources. Since the Islamic militant group Hamas came to power a year ago, Western donors have halted direct assistance to the Palestinian government and Israel has frozen most tax revenues.
"I am sure that the authorities involved will do a proper technical analysis, and it is important to draw lessons how to prevent this but what is also more important is to save these people. More than 350 families lost everything and their life. They need shelter, they need food, they need drinking, they need medication, they need clothes," Abu Ramadan added.
One woman said she had lost everything.
"I found the house gone, the well gone, the cattle gone and everything gone. I lost four goats, four chickens and a sack of sugar and one sack of flour all this is lost. How many should I count for you?" she said.
Palestinian Interior Minister Hani al-Qawasmi, who rushed to the village to survey the damage, came under attack from angry gunmen who fired shots over his head, witnesses said. Qawasmi was whisked to safety in a pick-up truck.
The spokesman said Qawasmi ordered an investigation into what caused the wave of sewage.
"I was at school. If this had happened at 10 (at night), all the village would have died," an unidentified youth said.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
- Copyright Notice: (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2011. Open For Restrictions - http://about.reuters.com/fulllegal.asp
- Usage Terms/Restrictions: None