Woman dies as storms and unseasonal weather batter Middle East

Heavy rains and fierce winds hit the Middle East over the weekend, sinking a ship off Israel's coast and killing a woman in Lebanon whose car was crushed when a tree fell on it.

The storm also brought unusually cold temperatures - below freezing in some spots. It ended weeks of unseasonably warm and dry weather that contributed to dozens of forest fires in Lebanon and helped feed a massive blaze in Israel that killed more than 40 people and destroyed thousands of hectares of forest.

It whipped up sandstorms in Jordan and Egypt, and in Syria, snow blanketed the streets of Damascus.

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Syria closed the main port of Tartous and in Egypt, 12-foot waves forced authorities to shut the port of Alexandria - the country's largest.

A woman died on Saturday night when an uprooted tree fell on her car in Tripoli.

Heavy rains flooded the streets in Beirut and snow forced some road closures in remote mountain towns in Lebanon. Flights in and out of Beirut's international airport were delayed.

In the Gaza Strip, strong winds and lashing rains caused cracks in the pier and the breakwater at the harbour local fishermen use. No-one was hurt, but civil defence workers and the Gaza maritime police were hauling boats out of the water and moving them and other fishing equipment to safer ground.