Manama: Heavy rains lashed parts of Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, killing at least two people as religious officials urged people to stay indoors for safety.
Two people were electrocuted when they touched a lamp post as they were attempting to cross a water-filled road, Saudi daily Okaz reported.
High levels of water flooded an old neighbourhood in Makkah, leaving 16 people marooned. The Civil Defence deployed a special team to rescue those trapped.
Meteorologists said that 22 millimetres of rain were recorded in Jeddah a short time after after the outpour started at around 10am.
Roads were flooded with rain water, causing traffic chaos and congestion all over the city and bringing back terrible memories of the 2009 floods that killed people and destroyed property and led to the trial of 332 suspects.
In Jeddah, traffic police officers had to remove a large signboard that fell on a highway and disrupted traffic.
An Egypt Air plane coming from Cairo was diverted to the recently opened airport in Madina after weather conditions made it highly risky for the plane to land in Jeddah.
In the northern part of Saudi Arabia, two children were reported missing amid concerns they have been carried away by rain floods in a wadi.
Initially, the civil defence were told that three children could not be found, but one of them was located in a wadi and a rescue team launched an operation to save the child. The rainy weather is expected to remain until Wednesday.
Calls to stay indoors
Mosque prayer criers or muezzins in western Saudi Arabia on Tuesday used minarets to ask people to avoid coming out in the heavy rains and perform prayers in their homes instead.
The highly unusual call by the muezzins - made ahead of the noon prayers - was issued a short time after the crisis centre in the Red Sea city of Jeddah warned residents not to venture outside and remain in their homes.
The centre said that people should go out of their homes only in emergency cases and for crucial reasons. People should avoid getting near wadis and floods for the sake of their own safety, the centre added.
Schools and colleges in western and northern Saudi Arabia were closed on Tuesday as heavy rains are expected to lash the areas.
A spokesperson for the Makkah education district attributed the decision to concerns generated by the unsettled weather about the safety of students and teaching and administrative staff.
In the Red Sea city of Jeddah, the head of education said that the closure of the schools was the best option to ensure the safety of students and staff. Abdullah Al Thaqafi said that all principals will abide by the decision and that there was a zero-risk policy in such cases.
In Yanbu, around 300 kilometres north of Jeddah, all schools will also remain closed on Tuesday following stern warnings about the weather.
Three universities said they were suspending courses for the sake of the students’ safety.
Video clips of vehicles being carried away by floods and pictures of roads submerged with water from the rain and wadis have been circulating on the internet and posted on news sites amid warnings by the civil defence authorities to exercise the highest levels of caution.
Drivers have been told to avoid taking to the road unless it is necessary and in such cases to drive slowly and cautiously.