Khobar, Saudi Arabia, – Thirty eight people have drowned in the Eastern Region of Saudi Arabia so far in 2005 despite numerous signposts warning of the dangers scattered along the coastline.
The number is expected to rise during holidays as visitors flock to the beautiful beaches from across the Kingdom and neighboring countries. In many cases, children, some as young as nine, left unsupervised by their parents, venture too far in the sea and are unable to return to the shore. Hardly a day passes by during holiday without a new tragedy taking place.
Officials in the Eastern Region have called on all visitors to exercise caution and avoid swimming in prohibited areas. The authorities have also placed warning signs along the coastline and established land and sea patrols.
Gen. Abdul Rahman bin Ibrahim al Brahim, head of the border guard in the Eastern Region, appealed to all those visiting the area to follow safety measures and warned against leaving children unsupervised. In case of emergency, visitors are asked to contact the border guard on 994, he added.
In 2004, al Brahim said the border guards rescued thirty eight people, 6 of whom later died, and save 104 sailors from 27 boats from drowning. Most incidents, he added, were caused by visitors ignoring warning signs or youth swimming not taking any precaution.
With the Eid festival approaching, al Brahim indicated the border guards were ready for the influx of visitors and had intensified their patrols along the coastline in areas such as Nisf al Qamar and the Corniche at Dammam and Khobar and other areas where crowds are expected.
Beaches in the Eastern Region where swimming is prohibited are clearly signposted but many visitors do not heed the warnings and ignore the barriers, causing a number of fatalities including several members of the same family.