BEIRUT: A large man-made irrigation pond in the Jbeil district village of Aqoura burst Wednesday, with the force of the gushing water washing away two other reservoirs, causing heavy flooding in the area.

“It’s a disaster,” Aqoura Mayor Simon Merheb told The Daily Star by telephone.

He said the floods swamped vast areas, causing extensive damage to crops and property.

“The area suffered heavy damage. Enormous areas of crops and apple orchards sustained extensive flood damage,” he said.

The Agriculture Ministry said that it has banned the establishment of artificial ponds in the area in 2002 for “geological reasons.”

“All requests for licenses sent to the ministry up till today have been rejected based on a geological study conducted by the Green Project.”

Agriculture Minister Akram Chehayeb delegated engineer Gloria Abi Zeid with inspecting damages incurred as a result of Wednesday’s incident.

Merheb said at least four agriculture machines and three cars were also destroyed, as well as several small overpasses.

He said municipal workers managed to reopen the main Laqlouq-Aqoura road several hours after the morning flood.

“We were able to remove the flood water, but there is a lot of cleaning to be done,” Merheb added, urging the Public Works Ministry to lend a hand in the cleanup campaign.

The man-made ponds are among seven storage reservoirs in Aqoura used for irrigation and livestock.

Aqoura, which sits at the head of the Nahr Ibrahim valley, is about 1,500 kilometers above sea level.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on May 21, 2015, on page 4.
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