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could you imagine - March 27, 2007, 04:03 PM

what a way to go

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...00.html?sub=AR

JERUSALEM, March 27 -- The earthen wall of a sewage pond in the northern Gaza Strip ruptured Tuesday, flooding a nearby village and killing at least four Palestinians.
The dead in the village of Um el-Nasser included a 70-year-old woman, a teenage girl, a five year-old boy, and 2-year-old Jamal Abu Safra, whose mother watched him sink beneath the foul brown water as she struggled to remain afloat.

"I can't swim and I started swallowing sewage," said Amal Abu Safra, 30, who held her youngest son aloft for several minutes before she lost the strength to do so. "I wanted to go under instead of him. But then he disappeared."
The flood, which followed a period of heavy rains, provided a tragic illustration of Gaza's crumbling public works after years of neglect and recently curtailed foreign aid to the government. A January 2004 report by the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs declared the sewage ponds an "environmental emergency."
The ponds and adjacent treatment plant were designed to serve 50,000 people in the Beit Lahiya area, the report said, but the region's population had grown to 190,000. At the time, 110 acres had already been flooded by the sewage overflow.
"Unless action is taken to address this problem," the report said, "water in this effluent lake will spill out over the holding basins into residential areas and directly into homes."
After nearly four decades in Gaza, the Israeli government withdrew its soldiers and evacuated its settlements -- the northern bloc of which stood just above Um el-Nasser -- in September 2005.
The Palestinian Authority has since been hampered financially after most foreign donors cut off aid to the government following the January 2006 election of Hamas, an armed Islamic movement. The United Nations and other foreign donors increased their financial support for humanitarian projects and non-governmental agencies in the occupied territories during the past year to make up for the decline in direct government aid.
Roads, power plants and water works across the 140 square-mile strip are deteriorating rapidly. Many are already in tatters.
The sewage spill, which began around 8 a.m. when children were playing in the sandy streets, drew a furious response from the village's roughly 5,000 residents, most of who are impoverished Bedouins.
Survivors, who had been wading through chest-deep sewage moments earlier, chased off reporters and mobbed the new Palestinian interior minister, Hani Kawasmeh, when he arrived to survey the damage. His bodyguards fired in the air to disperse the crowd.
U.N. officials said about 250 people are homeless, and rescue workers are moving villagers from the low-lying areas around the ponds to higher ground near the former Israeli settlements.


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March 27, 2007, 04:08 PM

wow, what a way to die.
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