Cars drive through a flooded street in northern Riyadh, after heavy rains fell overnight in the Saudi capital. Image Credit: AFP

Manama/Muscat: The heavy rains that have been lashing the Saudi capital have claimed at least one life, according to civil defence officials in Riyadh.

Earlier it was reported that three people were killed but although more people remain missing, only one has been confirmed dead so far.

The victim was a Yemeni resident who was carried by floods in front of her powerless father.

The girl was reportedly riding with her father in their car when they had to stop and get off as the waters of Wadi Namar were too dangerous to cross using the vehicle.

However, as the father and daughter attempted to cross the watercourse on foot, the girl could not escape and she was carried by the floods, local news site Sabq reported on Sunday early afternoon.

Two men and one woman were reported missing in the floods caused by the rains on Saturday, a civil defence official was quoted as saying in Saudi news site Sabq, adding that the search was ongoing for those reported missing.

“There were 5,015 reports of incidents, out of which 4,968 were in Riyadh and 47 in the provinces,” Captain Mohammad Al Hammadi, spokesperson for the civil defence, said.

“Ninety-eight trapped people were rescued,” he said, adding that three people were reported missing in Riyadh.

Civil defence teams had recovered 148 vehicles that had been submerged in water, out of which 101 were in Riyadh.

Damage to property

The rain reportedly caused damage to public and private property. The damage became apparent on Saturday as the bad weather eased.

Schools in Riyadh and some of its suburbs were closed yesterday as the authorities worked on reopening roads shut down due to heavy rains. The education ministry said it decided to keep the schools closed “due to the weather conditions and expected rains”, the official news agency (SPA) reported.

Road traffic came to a standstill in many of the capital’s roads, in particular underpasses where high levels of rain were recorded, Sabq reported. The authorities sought to reassure motorists, issuing statements that they were working to reopen all the roads. However, Hassan Al Hassan, the spokesperson for Riyadh traffic, urged motorists not to venture out and wait until roads and tunnels are cleared. No major accident was reported.

Police shut down the southern exit on Algiers Square in Riyadh after the road caved in due to water logging.

Al Hassan said that rocks were reported to have fallen close to the capital’s iconic Suspended Bridge. Pictures and videos on news sites, social networks and mobile messaging services showed tunnels logged with water and vehicles almost entirely submerged.

Movement is often crippled in Saudi cities when seasonal rains hit. Authorities have faced severe public criticism for the cities’ infrastructure that has been unable to handle the rain. The Red Sea city of Jeddah has been particularly affected by bad weather in the past.

Several comments on social networks blamed road contractors for the damages, accusing them of not complying with the required standards and criteria.

“We hope there will be stringent action against violators and abusers,” one comment said. “These rains have revealed their failures.”

In some areas to the north of the capital, power was cut off, leaving homes with no electricity.

In Oman, the Public Authority of Civil Defence and Ambulance (PACDA) on Saturday recovered the body of an Indian expatriate worker who went missing on Friday night after heavy rains lashed northern suburbs of Muscat.

According to sources, two workers working on a pipe-laying site in Al Khodh area north of Muscat were washed away in a flash flood following Friday night’s rains.

“One of them caught a tree branch and was saved by a passerby, but the deceased was pulled by strong wadi currents,” an eyewitness said.

The PACDA rescue teams launched search operations and found the body on Saturday, according to a posting on PACDA’s Facebook page.

Although the forecast was for heavy rains, Saturday saw relatively lighter rains and yesterday morning was bright and sunny.

The Batinah region in the north of the country suffered the most, with rainwater flooding houses in some areas.

Qatar and Bahrain also experienced light rain over the weekend.