BEIRUT – A severe snow and rain storm across Lebanon has caused blackouts across the country where electricity workers have also been on strike for several days, residents and officials said on Thursday.
“There is a storm, and there is a problem in the grid. The electricity workers are on strike, and they’re not letting anyone fix the problem,” Energy and Water Minister Gebran Bassil told AFP.
Residents in several Beirut districts and in snow-capped mountain areas reported via social network sites that the blackout began on Wednesday night affecting electrical supply, heating and hot water boilers.
“Our boiler works with electricity, so of course we have no hot water,” said Elsa, a housekeeper living in Beirut, adding that her family has been struggling to find ways to keep warm.
Employees at the state-run Electricite du Liban power company began an open-ended strike earlier this week, even as the storm gained in intensity, with rain, snow and high winds battering the country and the region.
On Tuesday the power company urged employees to go back to work but the following day the workers vowed to press on with the strike saying their union “has not received any positive signs” concerning their demands.
The strike was called to renegotiate the salaries of employees with the finance ministry in line with allocations it made under the 2013 budget.
Chronic power shortages since the end of Lebanon’s 1975-1990 civil war have been a main source of grievance among Lebanese who must put up with daily rationing.
The storm that has been battering Lebanon since the weekend is one of the worst to have hit the country in at least a decade, an airport weather expert has said.
It has killed at least four people, including a man who froze to death as fell asleep drunk in his car in the eastern Bekaa Valley and a baby swept away in a flash flood.
Schools have been shut nationwide since Tuesday.