Saudi flooding death toll rises
RIYADH // Thunderstorms and flooding along the Red Sea coast have claimed the lives of 12 people in Saudi Arabia over the past two days, half of them children.
The six children who died in the provinces of Yanbu, Ha’il and on the outskirts of the coastal city of Jiddah either drowned or were swept away by floodwaters, according to Saudi Arabia’s civil defence.
Rainfall and strong winds also affected parts of the Islamic holy cities of Mecca and Medina, and the province of Tabuk.
Most of the fatalities came in the Medina area, where five bodies were recovered, said the civil defence.
On Tuesday, civil defence said two people were electrocuted in Jeddah, the kingdom’s second-largest city, and an 11-year-old boy drowned in Yanbu further north.
With fears of more rain, the education department announced that Jeddah schools and universities – shut since Tuesday – will remain closed until Thursday.
Floods killed 123 people in the Red Sea city in 2009, and about 10 people two years later.
Eight domestic flights were delayed there on Tuesday because of the rains.
The latest inundation led to barbed comments on social media, where users posted pictures of flooding at Jeddah’s King Abdulaziz international airport, which is undergoing a major expansion.
Under the hashtag, “Jeddah is drowning”, Twitter user Hassan Al Harthi claimed that “Jeddah airport fails before its opening.”
Another user, Hussein Shabakshi, poked fun in a tweet: “The competitive advantage of buying property in Jeddah is that sometimes you go to the corniche and at other times the corniche comes to you.”
Major infrastructure improvements since the earlier flooding were designed to prevent a recurrence.
“They were efficiently and effectively implemented and supervised,” the Mecca government, which includes Jeddah, said in response to public criticism.
* Associated Press and Agence France-Presse
Updated: November 18, 2015 04:00 AM