Riyadh on high alert after flooding

Riyadh on high alert after flooding
4 killed, schools closed as rains disrupt life
Last updated: Monday, November 18, 2013 8:42 AM
Abdullah Al-Ghamdi and Mansour Al-Shahri
Okaz/Saudi Gazette

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Flash floods in Saudi Arabia
Published on Nov 17, 2013
Uploaded by GlobalLeaks

Flash floods slam into Riyadh, Saudi Arabia causing significant damage. These types of floods are rare in Saudi Arabia, which is a country comprises of mainly desert. So far one person has been reported killed and various missing.

RIYADH – Three members of a family were killed and an expat woman’s body was retrieved after three people were reported missing in heavy rains that lashed Riyadh city and other regions of the province.

Civil Defense teams retrieved on Sunday the body of an expatriate woman who was swept away in flash floods in Riyadh’s Wadi Nimar Saturday evening, Col. Abdullah Al-Harthy, spokesman of Civil Defense, said. The teams are continuing search for the other missing people. A total of 228 Civil Defense personnel were taking part in the search operation.

Civil Defense units have rescued a total of 98 people trapped mainly in their vehicles as heavy downpour that began on Saturday night continued on Sunday in most parts of Riyadh.

Riyadh Emir Prince Khaled Bin Bandar held on Sunday afternoon a meeting of top officials to review the emergency measures taken to deal with the situation.

Prince Khaled and Deputy Emir Prince Turki Bin Abdullah directed the officials to take all possible measures to ensure safety of the people affected by rain and flash floods.

Public life has largely been disrupted following heavy rains accompanied by thunderstorms. Many vehicles are still lying submerged as many roads and streets are flooded with water. Schools and universities remained closed in Riyadh region and the Eastern Province.

There were reports of power outage in some districts of northern Riyadh. The newly constituted Civil Defense committee has started assessing damage and losses. Several affected residents approached the committee seeking compensation for the losses caused to them.

Meanwhile, Muhammad Al-Sharif, President of the National Commission to Combat Corruption (Nazaha), said that the anti-graft body would start investigation if it received complaints about any corruption involved in implementing the drainage projects in the capital city.

The Presidency of Meteorology and Environment (PME) predicted on Sunday that several regions of the Kingdom will witness medium to heavy rain and thunderstorm. These included the regions from Riyadh to Jazan, Rafha in the Northern Border region, and Dammam, Dhahran, Jubail, Khafji and Hafr Al-Batin in the Eastern Province.

Col. Abdullah Al-Harthy, spokesman of Civil Defense, said that their operation rooms had received a total of 5,015 calls since Saturday evening, and of these 4,968 were from Riyadh city alone. Most of these calls were from the southwestern districts of the city.

Those who have been rescued included 35 from Riyadh, 30 in Mozahamiya, 14 in Dharma, 10 in Horaimila, and three each in Thadeq and Remah.

Al-Harthy said Civil Defense units managed to get 148 vehicles out of flooded streets, and these included 101 vehicles in Riyadh city and 47 in other regions.

“A total of 11 people trapped in their flooded homes have also been evacuated and shifted to furnished apartments,” he said.

Incessant rains coupled with misty clouds caused flash floods in several regions of Riyadh and water level at many dams rose to 5-6 meters. The sky remained cloudy in many parts of the capital city and some of the regions on Sunday as more rains are expected over the coming hours.

Al-Harthy urged citizens and expatriates to take extra caution and vigil as there is a possibility for continuing rain in Riyadh and other regions in the Kingdom. He also warned against crossing valleys and passages of flash floods and avoid going out for picnicking to flood-hit regions.

The Civil Defense Directorate has mobilized about 700 rescue teams to meet any emergency situations all over the Kingdom, according to Assistant Director General of the Directorate Maj. Gen. Abdullah Al-Ghunam.

Mazen Al-Ghamdi, director of technical affairs at the Saudi Red Crescent Authority, said that their operation room received a call about an accident involving a three-member family in Deerab Road. The couples and their child died when their car skidded from the road and collided.

Civil Defense forces deployed rescue boats in front of King Khaled Specialist Eye Hospital to meet any emergency situation.

Muhammad Al-Dhohaini, spokesman of the Ministry of Education, declared suspension of classes on Sunday in schools of Riyadh city, and the regions of Al-Mozahamiya, Thadeq, Dharma, Horaimila and Remah. Classes were also suspended at Imam Mohammed Bin Saud Islamic University, King Saud University, Princess Nora Bint Abdulrahman University and King Saud Bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences. The Education Department in the Eastern Province has also suspended classes on Sunday.

REFERENCE: http://www.saudigazette.com.sa/index.cfm?method=home.regcon&contentid=20131118187017

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