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Four killed in torrential Tunisia rains

By AFP - Sep 24,2018 - Last updated at Sep 24,2018

People pass by damaged vehicles near a police station in the Tunisian coastal governorate of Nabeul on Sunday following deadly flash flooding in the town of Bir Challouf (AFP photo)

NABEUL, Tunisia — Flash floods in Tunisia's Cap Bon peninsula have killed at least four people, authorities said on Sunday, as surging waters caused by heavy rains carried away homes, cars and chunks of road.

Among the four dead were two sisters, swept away as they left work at a factory in Bou Argoub, 45 kilometres southeast of the capital, the interior ministry said.

A 60-year-old man drowned near the town of Takilsa and another man was found dead in Bir Bouregba, close to the town of Hammamet, ministry spokesman Sofiene Zaag told AFP.

Saturday's storm caused water levels in some areas to rise as much as 1.7 metres, as bridges and roads were damaged in record rains that dropped the equivalent of nearly six months of average precipitation.

"It was raining since noon and [in the afternoon] it became torrential. The water flooded over the bridge and onto the road," Moncef Barouni, a resident in the coastal town of Nabeul, told AFP.

In just minutes, "the water swept away the fence, then the boiler room, the summer kitchen and a part of the house", he said.

"I was scared for my life."

The storm dumped 200 millimetres of rain on Nabeul and up to 225 millimetres in the city of Beni Khalled, in the peninsula's centre, according to Tunisia's National Institute of Meteorology.

It was the heaviest rainfall since the institute began keeping a record in 1995, the institute said, adding that it had issued a warning about the storms on Friday.

Videos posted to social networks showed surging waters carrying cars and pieces of road in the north of the peninsula.

Tunisian authorities said they had dispatched police, army and rescue teams to the region on Saturday afternoon, in addition to mobilising ambulances and two helicopters.

Authorities also took preventative measures in the Sahel region further south in anticipation of further rains, but by Sunday they appeared to have subsided.

The sun was out on Sunday and receding water levels meant most of the area's roads were passable by car, Zaag said, although the region's telephone networks were still largely out of service.

Severe thunderstorms have hit the North African country since the middle of last week, flooding roads and damaging property, sparking anger against the authorities for allegedly failing to maintain drainage systems.

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