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Unusual winter storm in Lebanon and Israel leaves many without power

Dec. 14, 2013 at 1:05 PM   |   Comments

JERUSALEM, Dec. 14 (UPI) -- Israeli officials struggled Saturday to open roads, restore power and get aid to those cut off by an unusual winter storm, officials said..

Public transportation in Jerusalem was brought to a halt by snow and ice, the Jerusalem Post reported. The Israel Electric Corp. said 35,000 households, more than 1 percent of its customers, were still without electricity Saturday morning.

Inter-city bus service was suspended in much of the country, and Egged, the national bus company, said buses into and out of Jerusalem would only resume Saturday evening if conditions permitted.

Schools in much of the country were expected to be closed Sunday.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu urged Israelis to make sure neighbors had what they needed. He also said floods are expected in the next few days because of heavy rain.

The storm hit Lebanon and Israel on Wednesday. In Lebanon some areas saw the first snow in years, the Daily Star reported.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who made a short visit to Jerusalem on the way to Vietnam and the Philippines, was forced to cut a meeting with Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas short Thursday night. The storm had made the highway from Ramallah to Jerusalem difficult, Haaretz reported.

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said Friday the city was in "a battle against a rare storm, the likes of which we have never seen," the Post said.

"We are currently using all means available to save the people stuck in the storm," Barkat said. "Only after the weather calms will we be able to open all of the roadways in the city."

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