UK & World News
Egypt Sees First Snow Storm In Years
A winter storm has brought snow to Cairo for the first time in decades and has blanketed parts of the Middle East.
Bad weather closed two of the country's Mediterranean ports and two ports on the Red Sea as "several" in inches fell in the Sinai Desert and elsewhere.
Ali Abdelazim, an official at Egypt's meteorological centre, said it was "the first time in very many years" since the last snowfall in the suburbs of Cairo.
Precipitation of any kind is rare in Egypt so the rare sight of snow has been much talked about on social networking sites such as Twitter.
In Syria's contested northern city of Aleppo, soldiers and rebels took a break from fighting as the temperatures on the deserted streets hovered around zero.
"All the fighters are cold and hiding," the activist who uses the pseudonym Abu Raed said.
The cold weather was part of a storm, dubbed Alexa, which has been pounding much of Lebanon and parts of northern Syria since Wednesday, pushing temperatures below zero in mountainous areas and dumping snow and heavy rains.
The snow has heaped another layer of misery on the already grim existence of many of the more than two million Syrians who have fled the civil war raging in their homeland.
In Lebanon, snow fell on northern and eastern regions where tens of thousands of Syrian refugees are staying, many of them in flimsy plastic tents.
Up to 13cm (5in) have fallen in refugee camps in Lebanon with†8cm (3in) in the wartorn Syrian city of Homs.
Jerusalem was left blanketed by up to 50cm (20in) of snow, forcing police to block access to and from the city as the army was called in to help restore power to more than 35,000 homes.
The city's heaviest snowstorm for 50 years forced Israeli authorities to lift a ban on public transport on the Jewish Sabbath - Saturday.
The unusually large fall allowed children to build snowmen but left elderly residents shivering.
The weather even featured in talks between visiting US Secretary of State John Kerry and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Mr Kerry, a former Massachusetts senator, said the snow in Jerusalem made him feel "at home".
"I have heard of making guests welcome and feeling at home. This is about as far as I've ever seen anything go ... giving me a New England snowstorm."
In the West Bank and Gaza, UN relief teams offered emergency services to the worst-hit communities.
In Gaza, which was experiencing its first snow in a decade, more than 500 people were evacuated from their homes, according to Hamas spokesman Ihab Ghussein.
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