Egypt: Freak storm unleashes deadly scorpions, damages homes in Aswan

More than 500 treated for scorpion stings, while three members of security forces electrocuted

Egyptian engineer Ahmed Abu al-Seoud catches a scorpion at his Scorpion Kingdom laboratory and farm in Egypt's Western Desert, near the city of Dakhla in the New Valley, some 700 Southeast the capital, on February 4, 2021. Biomedical researchers are studying the pharmaceutical properties of scorpion venom, making the rare and potent neurotoxin a highly sought-after commodity now produced in several Middle Eastern countries. / AFP / Khaled DESOUKI

A freak storm that hit a major southern Egyptian city at the weekend has sent more than 500 people to hospital seeking treatment for stings by swarms of deadly scorpions washed from their desert habitat into the Nile-side metropolis, officials said on Tuesday.

The storm also destroyed and partially damaged hundreds of homes. Flash floods caused by the storm inundated vast swathes of desert surrounding Aswan, sending the creatures into homes on the outskirts of the city, the officials said.

Khaled Abdel Ghaffar, minister of high education and acting health minister, said a total of 503 people were treated for scorpion stings in several hospitals in Aswan. All 503 survived and were later discharged from hospitals.

Egypt is home to fat-tailed scorpions, rated among the world’s deadliest. Human stung by them can die within an hour.

Three members of the security forces stationed at Aswan were electrocuted by a live cable covered by flood waters, officials said.

The storm hit the city on Friday, but details about its impact only began to trickle through later.

The storm’s thunder and hail terrified residents not accustomed to such extreme weather. Aswan normally receives as little as 1 of rainfall annually.

The storm, according to Mr Abdel Ghaffar, caused power outages when electricity pylons were knocked down. Scores of trees were also uprooted by the storm, which brought work to a halt at local water treatment plants.

Ashraf Attiya, Aswan's governor, said as many 106 homes were completely destroyed by the storm and the flash floods that followed, while 394 other residences were partially damaged. Homes that have been completely destroyed will be rebuilt in safer areas, he said.

Local authorities have asked the central government in Cairo for additional funds totalling 56 million pounds ($3.6m) to build new homes, repair damaged ones and pay compensation to residents who lost valuables in the floods, he said.

Updated: November 16th 2021, 5:12 PM
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