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Deaths reported as Aden electricity short-circuits, sending sparks flying under scorching 37-degree heat

Videos online showed sparks flying in residential neighbourhoods [Twitter]

Date of publication: 1 June, 2020

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As the city battles increasing number of coronavirus-linked deaths, Aden has been plunged into darkness despite rising temperatures.
At least two people have died in a quarantine centre in Yemen's coastal city, where thousands of people have been forced to live in the scorching heat with just 2 to 4 hours of electricity per day.

A city-wide electricity outage was reported on Saturday, leaving hundreds of patients, including those infected with Covid-19, at risk in hospitals and quarantine centres across Aden, where temperatures reached 37 degrees celsius.

Dozens of patients with high blood pressure, diabetes and heart diseases are also at risk of death due to the power outage, medical sources told Almasdar Online.

The latest developments came after a "technical glitch" at General Electricity Corporation in Aden that forced the entire system to shut down, an employee told the local news website.

Videos that emerged online showed electricity lines in heavily-populated residential areas short-circuiting, triggering dangerous sparks flying near civilians and homes.

Dozens of protesters gathered across the city's main districts urging for a swift return of services in Aden, which has seen a catastrophic number of "mysterious" deaths and witnessed intense intra-fighting between UAE-backed southern secessionist STC militias and Saudi-backed government forces.

Protesters in Al-Tawahi, Khormaksar and Al-Mualla districts chanted slogans against all parties involved in the five-year conflict, including the government, STC and the Saudi-led coalition, all of which were to blame for the deterioration of services, they said.

The protests came as aid organisations made an urgent plea for funding to shore up their operations in war-torn Yemen, saying they have already been forced to stop some of their work even as the coronavirus rips through the country.

Some 75 percent of UN programs in Yemen have had to shut their doors or reduce operations. The global body's World Food Program had to cut rations in half and UN-funded health services were reduced in 189 out of 369 hospitals nationwide. 

The United States, one of the largest donors, decreased its aid to Yemen earlier this year, citing interference by the Houthis.

Among the slashed programs is financial support to thousands of health workers who haven't received salaries from the government for nearly three years. Lise Grande, resident UN coordinator for Yemen said that just a week before the first coronavirus case was announced in Yemen, aid agencies had to stop paying health workers.

Without salaries, medical staff won't be able to provide health services to patients amid the pandemic.

Yemen has been caught in a grinding war since 2014 when Houthi rebels descended from their northern enclave and took over Sanaa, forcing the internationally-recognised president to flee. 

In the spring of 2015, a US-backed, Saudi-led coalition began a destructive air campaign to dislodge the Houthis while imposing a land, sea and air embargo on Yemen.

Read also: Indepth: Yemen Aid: The NGO battling coronavirus in a war zone

The air war and fighting on the ground has killed more than 100,000 people, shut down or destroyed half of Yemen's health facilities, and driven 4 million Yemenis from their homes.

Cholera epidemics and severe malnutrition among children have led to thousands of additional deaths.

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