Rain-Flooded Haifa Tunnels Claim One Victim

YERUSHALAYIM -
Skyscrapers in North Tel Aviv near Ayalon highway and river on a winter day, Tel Aviv, December 02, 2016. Photo by Gili Yaari /Flash90 *** Local Caption *** ?? ???? ???? ??????
Skyscrapers in North Tel Aviv near Ayalon Highway and River on a winter day, Tel Aviv, Dec. 2. (Gili Yaari/Flash90)

One person was niftar after rescuers removed him from a vehicle in a flooded Haifa tunnel Tuesday, as heavy rains deluged the Haifa area Tuesday morning. The victim, a middle-aged man, died of hypothermia after being exposed to the floodwaters when his car was inundated by floodwaters. A second person who was stuck in a vehicle that was stuck in a tunnel and unable to drive out due to rushing water was rescued.

The rains were part of a winter weather system that forecasters said would remain in the region until at least Thursday, bringing heavy rain, wind, and cold temperatures to nearly all parts of the country.

Very heavy rains began falling early Tuesday, just in time for the morning commute. Traffic was backed for hours on several major highways as potholes quickly filled with water, forcing drivers to veer off to side lanes and turning three lane highways into one way roads. One driver who was stuck in a large puddle under a bridge in Haifa apparently suffered a heart attack while sitting behind the wheel. He managed to alert rescue officials, and was taken to a local hospital for treatment.

Two other people were forced to stop their cars in the Carmel Tunnels as water rushed in, with rescue officials using rafts to extricate them from their vehicles. The heavy rains also dislodged rocks on hills abutting several highways, causing avalanches that blocked roads for hours as well. In Rosh Pinah in northern Israel, a major accident involving half a dozen vehicles saw five people injured, one moderately.

Between the early hours of Tuesday and 9 a.m., the Kinneret had risen one centimeter. Since last week’s major rains, the Kinneret has risen 8 centimeters, still 4.96 meters from being full. Snow has been falling on the Chermon since Monday night, and the mountain is closed to all visitors Tuesday.

Local officials warned that the rains are set to become much more intense Tuesday and Wednesday, and stressed that flooding is likely in many places. Wind gusts, meanwhile, could reach 90 kilometers per hour, and temperatures will approach freezing in many areas. With that, forecasters said that snow was unlikely in Yerushalayim this week – although another storm is on the way which could dump the white stuff on the city next week.