Deadly flash floods stir up storm in Kuwait's cabinet

Public works minister resigns after deluge in which at least one person was killed

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Kuwait's public works minister resigned after heavy rainfall on Friday that caused road washouts and major disruptions and left at least one person dead, while the prime minister promised to hold officials accountable for not performing their duties.

Flash floods surged through homes and main roads, trapping motorists and causing major disruptions to traffic. The Kuwaiti National Guard was sent out to help clear roads as entire motorways and neighbourhoods were submerged.

The health ministry said on Saturday that a man aged 30 died after being swept away as he tried to rescue his family from their flooded home.

Videos posted on social media networks showed vehicles being swept away.

Kuwait's meteorological department said the country received more rainfall on Friday than was anticipated for the entire month of November. It said there were chances of more heavy rainfall on Saturday but that weather conditions were expected to stabilise by Sunday morning.

The health minister said on Friday that his team responded to 400 emergency cases and that a state of emergency would continue until the weather improved.

The education ministry ordered all schools to remain closed on Sunday, KUNA reported.

The government declared a holiday for ministries, universities and schools when a less severe storm struck the country on Tuesday.

The chaos from the storms prompted some Kuwaitis to criticise officials on social media for not being prepared for severe weather. After the storm on Tuesday, parliamentarian Mohammad Hadi Al Huwaila urged the government to form a crisis management commission.

Public works minister Hussam Al Roumi tendered his resignation on Friday, expressing “sincere apologies” for the damage caused to people’s property as a result of the heavy rainfall, according to the state-run Kuwait News Agency (KUNA).

The resignation came after a number of other senior officials in the public works ministry were reportedly fired, according to the Kuwait Times daily newspaper.

Deputy Prime Minister Anas Al Saleh said on Saturday that the government would hold accountable all those who failed to perform their duty, including ministers and private companies contracted by the government, KUNA said.

He said the cabinet would meet on Saturday to review reports of damage caused by the storm. Ministers will also discuss ways to assist those who were affected.

The education ministry said it was working with representatives of school districts on a report assessing the damage to schools. The education minister said his office was also working on forming a joint commission with the civil defence in preparation for weather-related emergencies.


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