5 killed as rains, flash floods hit Saudi coast

Res­i­dents urged to stay in­doors; schools closed

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE -

RIYADH: Se­vere weather along Saudi Ara­bia’s Red Sea coast claimed five lives yes­ter­day, in­clud­ing three chil­dren who drowned, and closed schools and uni­ver­si­ties, the coun­try’s Civil De­fense said. An 11-year-old child drowned in the western prov­ince of Yanbu, ap­par­ently due to a val­ley flood­ing. An­other child, whose age was not dis­closed, died af­ter be­ing swept by flood­wa­ters in the north­west­ern prov­ince of Hail. A third child was con­firmed dead af­ter drown­ing in area on the out­skirts of Jed­dah, the Civil De­fense author­ity said. Two other peo­ple died when they were elec­tro­cuted by a lamp­post in the coastal city.

Civil De­fense res­cue crews are search­ing for an­other child that is miss­ing in Hail, while a third was res­cued from a flooded val­ley there. “We are all pained to­day by the loss of our chil­dren’s lives in ac­ci­dents and var­i­ous ar­eas af­ter be­ing swept away by the flood­wa­ters,” the civil de­fense author­ity said in a tweet. A pic­ture posted by the agency showed wa­ter over the wheels of cars in one Jed­dah lo­ca­tion, but else­where it cov­ered only the feet of fire­fight­ers. The gov­ern­ment urged Jed­dah res­i­dents to stay home, and gave chil­dren there a day off school yes­ter­day and to­day.

“The next few hours will see more mod­er­ate rains in Jed­dah and its north­ern ar­eas,” said Hus­sein Al-Qah­tani, a weather depart­ment spokesman. Even heav­ier rains fell in the north­west­ern city of Tabuk, near Jor­dan, where 46 mm were recorded since Mon­day, Qah­tani said. Fol­low­ing cool winds, mod­er­ate to heavy rains would to­day move east to the Riyadh re­gion and other ar­eas, he told Al-Ekhbaria tele­vi­sion news chan­nel. Floods killed 123 peo­ple in Jed­dah in 2009, and about 10 peo­ple two years later.

Jed­dah’s King Ab­du­laziz In­ter­na­tional Air­port said eight do­mes­tic flights were de­layed “due to the rainy weather con­di­tions in Jed­dah”. One in­ter­na­tional flight was di­verted to Mad­i­nah, it added in a state­ment, with­out giv­ing more de­tails. “Air traf­fic is now back to nor­mal,” the air­port said.

Saudis took to so­cial me­dia to share videos and pic­tures of flooded streets and high winds. Flood­ing is po­lit­i­cally sen­si­tive in Jed­dah, where pre­vi­ous in­ci­dents have prompted wide­spread anger over the per­ceived fail­ure of lo­cal and na­tional gov­ern­ment to build suit­able de­fences and to pre­vent il­le­gal hous­ing devel­op­ments in risky ar­eas. Footage and pho­to­graphs shown on Saudi-owned Al-Ara­biya tele­vi­sion pic­tured cars be­ing swept along Jed­dah streets and peo­ple us­ing boats to nav­i­gate dis­tricts of the city. The Na­tional Cen­ter for Me­te­o­rol­ogy and Seis­mol­ogy in the neigh­bor­ing United Arab Emi­rates says rain is ex­pected there Fri­day.

— AFP

JED­DAH: A man pushes his car in flood­wa­ters fol­low­ing heavy rain­fall in this Saudi port city yes­ter­day.

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