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16 People Killed in Saudi Flooding - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Vehicles drive on a flooded street on May 1, 2013, in the north of the Saudi capital Riyadh. (AFP PHOTO / FAYEZ NURELDINE)

Vehicles drive on a flooded street on May 1, 2013, in the north of the Saudi capital Riyadh. (AFP PHOTO / FAYEZ NURELDINE)

Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat—At least 16 people have been killed in flooding across Saudi Arabia after torrential rain lashed different parts of the kingdom.

Directorate spokesman Col. Abdullah bin Thabit Al-Harthi told the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) that the deal toll included two people in Kharj, three people in Aflaj, one person in Ha’il, four people in Ta’if and three people in Baha.

Reports indicate that Civil Defense centres across the country received more than 5,180 calls about accidents as a result of the flooding, while 891 people were rescued after becoming trapped in their homes. As of yesterday, the Civil Defense Council had rescued more than 1,470 people, while initial estimates place the material damage caused by the rainfall and floods at upwards of USD 400 million.

Baha Civil Defense bureau spokesman Lt. Col. Jaman Al-Ghamdi revealed that the bodies of three people reported missing were discovered on Tuesday night, adding that the fourth was discovered Wednesday morning. A jeep carrying the family of four had been carried away by surging waters in the Aqiq governorate on Tuesday evening.

After being alerted about the accident, Baha Civil Defense sent rapid-response teams to attempt to rescue the family. Approximately 300 officers took part in the operation.

Elsewhere, Ta’if Governor Fahad bin Abdulaziz bin Muammar informed Asharq Al-Awsat that such rainfall was unprecedented in Ta’if, adding that this had flooded valleys and residential neighborhoods in the south of the province.
He revealed that his governorate had set up a special committee to expedite the inventory of the damage from the flooding.

He said: “We provided emergency shelter for 354 people, in addition to rescuing 56 people who had been trapped. Teams from the police, electricity department and civil defense council have examined the affected areas, and now the Roads and Bridges Department is working to clear these areas and remove obstructions, in cooperation with the civil defense.”

“The areas that have witnessed blackouts will have their electricity restored within 24 hours,” he added.

Abdullah Al-Ahmari, head of Real Estate Evaluation at the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, estimated the damage as a result of the rainfall and flooding at more than SAR 1 billion.

Speaking exclusively to Asharq Al-Awsat, he said: “We are now looking at rainfall whose volume and timing was completely unexpected, and its impact will only increase because of a lack of planning, whether in terms of real estate or the construction of cheap housing. According to media reports, the extent of the damage is large, and in my own opinion this will surpass SAR 1.5 billion.”