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15,000 homes left without power as heavy rains hit central Israel

A palm tree, brought down by heavy winds, blocks a road during a storm in Netanya, north of Tel Aviv, October 25, 2015
Heavy rains, strong winds cause severe flooding, damage to buildings, traffic chaos

Around 15,000 homes in central Israel were left without power Wednesday as heavy rains and strong winds hit the country, causing widespread damage. 

"Several high voltage lines were damaged due to the heavy rains in central Israel, the Sharon region, and the north," the Israel Electric Corporation said in a statement, according to Israeli news website Ynet. "Electric company crews were working to fix the damages and return the flow of electricity. The situation is dynamic and changing."

Many of the 15,000 homes without power also suffered outages on Sunday when heavy rain and strong winds caused power lines to collapse. Over 50,000 Israelis were left without power on Monday as efforts to repair broken lines were hindered because of a dispute between the Israel Electric Corporation and labor unions.

The intense localized rains Wednesday caused severe damage throughout central Israel, including heavy flooding, damage to buildings and vehicles and power cuts. 

The airport in the central city of Herzliya was shut down after the control tower was hit by lightning, while a bus was reportedly trapped in the flood waters in the city. 

The heavy rains led to serious traffic problems as many roads were flooded and power cuts caused traffic signal systems to break down. 

The major Azraeli Junction in Tel Aviv was thrown into chaos after the traffic lights failed and cars were left gridlocked in the center of the junction. 

According to fire services, dozens of people were rescued from elevators across the country due to outages caused by the storm.

Elior Gil, a forecaster for channel 10 said that the storm has yet to peak, "It's hard to imagine while looking at pictures from the Sharon. This storm is the perfect combination of two meteorological conditions, cold air in the lower layers of the atmosphere meeting with very weak winds," according to Ynet

The mayors of the central cities of Ra’anana and Kfar Saba sent a joint letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday, emphasizing how vulnerable people, such as the ill, the elderly and children, as well as business owners, have suffered from the prolonged lack of electricity.

“It cannot be that in an extreme weather situation Israel transforms into a third-world country,” Mayors Ze’ev Bielski and Yehuda Ben-Hamo wrote, according to The Jerusalem Post


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