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Wednesday, 27 November, 2002, 08:52 GMT
Morocco floods hit oil plant
Oil tanker lies on the river bank after being swept away by floods near Mohammedia
Oil tankers were swept away by a swollen river
Morocco's largest oil refinery has been closed down following flash floods which have killed at least 37 people.

The Samir plant in the town of Mohammedia - which processes up to 90% of the country's crude oil exports - was severely damaged after flash floods triggered a major blaze.

Local reports said two people were killed in the fire and three others were missing.

More than 30 people died when the Bengueribi river burst its banks on Sunday, destroying houses and washing people away in a small village in the Settat region.

Morocco has seen unusually heavy rain in the past 10 days after a four-year drought. The first casualties were reported on Monday.

Criticism

A man and four of his five children were crushed near Fez when their house collapsed.

Two other people are reported to have died when a river burst its banks in the town of Ben Ahmed, in the Settat region.

Fire at the refinery
Two people are reported to have been killed in the blaze

About 10 people are reported missing.

The Moroccan Government has promised emergency funding for those left homeless by the floods and compensation for relatives of the dead.

It is not known how many people have lost their homes.

In December last year, flash floods triggered by heavy rain killed 15 people and left hundreds homeless in the Settat and Essaouria regions.

This prompted strong press criticism of the authorities for not taking enough preventative measures.

See also:

25 Nov 02 | Africa
27 Dec 01 | Africa
24 Oct 02 | Country profiles
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