Caption: Saeed Al Qahtani's car being swept away by floods - Al Watan Image Credit:

Manama: At least 25 people have died in the heavy rains and floods that have hit Saudi Arabia in the last 12 days, while massive efforts are under way in the search and rescue operations to locate three people who have been missing.

“We have been able to rescue 6,800 people and to evacuate 4,700 who were at risk,” the civil defence has said. “Around 47,000 calls had been placed to the authorities to request assistance and we have been able to respond to all of them.”

Saad Al Tuwaijiri, the head of the civil defence, said that they were able to interact with all callers thanks to a host of applications that included the latest technology available to locate the source of the call.

“More than 700 teams have been deployed under the strategy to deal with the flood-related emergency,” he said. “We were well prepared thanks to the surveys and studies we had carried earlier and that helped us identify high-risk areas and eventually succeed in limiting the casualties and the consequences of the heavy rains and floods,” he said.

The Saudi blogosphere carried the story of a man who attempted to rescue a young boy as he was being carried away by sweeping waters when he discovered that he was his own son. Despite his strenuous efforts, the father could not pull him out to safety, the reports said.

In other accounts, people displayed a high level of courage and bravery when they took high risks to save families and students trapped in vehicles.

Saeed Al Qahtani, a man in his 60s, and his wife thought they were about to die when floods engulfed their car. However, they were eventually rescued by a group of people who used a rope to pull them out of their sinking vehicle to safety.

“My wife and I took the car to look for four camels that have been missing,” he told local Arabic daily Al Watan. “Suddenly, we got stuck in the middle of the Lajm Valley. We tried for more than two hours to get the car away, but we could not. Suddenly, the floods came and they swept it away. We started to shout and we were lucky that a group of people heard or saw us. They used long ropes they had with them to rescue my wife and me. Of course, we lost the car,” he said.

Al Watan online readers greeted the couple on their safety, but criticised them for risking their lives looking for the missing camels.

The civil defence has repeatedly warned people to exercise the highest levels of caution and not to underestimate the dangers associated with attempting to cross or drive through floods.