Manama: A Filipino expatriate in Jeddah who rescued an elderly man stranded in his car engulfed in flood water has become a hero on social media.
The expatriate was standing among dozens of onlookers as the elderly man was waiting to be rescued by Civil Defence officers.
However, the Filipino noticed the officers were hesitant to approach the vehicle and decided to rescue the man himself.
He jumped into the choppy waters, pulled the man out of the car and waded him back to safety.
A video of the rescue went viral on social media.
“I was not afraid,” the expatriate said in broken Arabic.
“I could not stand seeing a man facing imminent danger and do nothing about it. I knew I had to jump and brave the floods in order to save 'Baba' [the affectionate word to refer to an elderly man],” he said, quoted by Saudi daily Okaz on Wednesday.
“When I first wanted to swim, some people around me told me not to do it, explaining that the Civil Defence would rescue him. But I was concerned Baba would be killed if the rescue operation was late,” he said.
Honoured on social media
Several media users called for honouring him and holding the servicemen to account.
The Interior Minister ordered an investigation into the incident and the failure of the rescue team to do their jobs.
Meanwhile, a Somali boy has become the first fatality the sweeping floods that have ravaged the Red Sea city this week.
On Tuesday evening, the eight-year-old boy’s body was found on the street. Authorities says he died from electrocution.
Social media users offered sympathies to the bereaved family and called for authorities to be probed for negligence and held to account.
Jeddah’s 40-year-old sewage networks only cover 18 per cent of the city which means that flooding is very common whenever it rains.
The country’s Attorney General, Shaikh Saud Bin Abdullah Al Muajab, has given the green light for authorities to arrest and probe individuals for negligence.
School has been suspended in Makkah, Jeddaah and Taif and flights have been delayed at Jeddah’s airport.
In late 2009, dozens of people were killed in the western region after heavy rains triggered deadly floods.
The tragedy scarred Saudis who lost loved ones who engaged in lengthy court cases for years to try to seek justice for gross negligence.
In lighter news, others used the floods as an opportunity for fun.
One girl, pulled by a car, was filmed water skiiing in her abaya. The video also went viral online.
Several Saudis called for stringent action against officials who have allowed the rainfall to cause havoc in the city that greatly suffered in 2009 when dozens of people were killed or went missing in the worst floods to hit the city in almost three decades.
The tragedy triggered lengthy court cases and deep controversy, and residents who were hit really hard hoped there would be no repeat of the drama.