Manama: Saudi Arabia’s media, blogosphere and social networks have been flooded with reports about the heavy downpour that has caused several deaths and damages to roads and properties.
Many tweeted about roads being cut off or submerged by waters, while others sent alerts about possible dangers to their followers. Reports said that 16 people have died from the floods and related accidents while authorities urged all Saudi citizens, expatriate residents and visitors to exercise the highest levels of caution and not to underestimate the risks and dangers of the rains or floods.
One video circulated on the internet showed how a four-wheel vehicle that ventured to continue its way across floods ended up being swept away by the strong current. “The driver has obviously believed he could disregard the dangers and the warnings issued by the civil defence and drove on,” Abdullah Al Jamaan, a witness told local Arabic news site Sabq.
“However, he soon realised the foolishness of his act when the floods swept his vehicle away. They were carried away over a long distance. Two people and I could eventually help the driver and his father who was with him in the vehicle by using ropes to pull them out to safety,” he said.
Abdullah blamed some people who were present at the scene and who seemingly cheered on the driver as he inched his car towards the floods before attempting to cross. In Hael, in the northern part of the country, two Saudis owed their survival to a tree. Witnesses said that the pair held on to the tree until a rescue team pulled them to safety.
In Abha, all public offices and schools were shut down for the first time in the country’s history. In the Taif area, 10 rescue teams made remarkable efforts to evacuate 496 people by air. Reports said that more than 80 farms and large garden were damaged. Electricity was cut off in several towns and villages and schools were shut to ensure the safety of students and teachers.
In the Eastern Province, people reported heavy damages to the infrastructure while road traffic was disrupted.
King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud has pressed the Saudi authorities to ensure the safety of all Saudis and expatriates and to provide them with financial and other forms of assistance without delays, the interior minister has said.
Five flights were delayed after electricity was cut off for 43 minutes at King Khalid airport, a civil aviation spokesperson said.
According to Khalid Al Khubairi, the power supply disruption occurred at 10.20am and caused three international flights to be delayed by 80 minutes and two domestic flights by 30 minutes.