Yemen's rebels say floods, heavy rains left over 130 dead

SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Yemen's Houthi rebels said Sunday that floods have swept through rebel-held parts of the country since mid-July amid heavy seasonal rains, leaving more than 130 dead and damaging more than 260 homes.

The Houthi-run Health Ministry said at least 124 others were injured by the flooding in parts of northern Yemen controlled by the rebels, including the capital Sanaa and its historic Old City, which is on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

More than 160,000 people were forced to leave their homes amid heavy flooding and rainfall in the provinces of Hajjah and Hodeida, according to security officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media.

At least 33,000 displaced people who were sheltering in camps in southern Yemen lost their tents and belongings in the floods, the International Committee of the Red Cross said last month.

The devastating floods in the Arab world’s poorest country have exacerbated a cholera outbreak, with 127,900 suspected cases across eight provinces since January, the World Health Organization said in July.

The Red Cross also warned the floods have accelerated the spread of dengue fever and malaria, as mosquitoes carrying the diseases breed in puddles.

Yemen is divided between the Houthi rebels in the north and an internationally recognized government in the south. Both sides have been at war since the Iran-backed Houthis swept across much of the north and seized Sanaa late in 2014, forcing the government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi into exile.

In Mach 2015, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states formed a coalition to take on the Houthis in what they said was an effort to stop Iran’s growing sway in Yemen, which is located at the southern corner of the Arabian Peninsula, overlooking the Red Sea and the Arabian Sea.