Flooding kills at least eight people in western Saudi Arabia

Friday 13/11/2015
Major infrastructure improvements were designed, but (…)

RIYADH - The death toll from two days of rains and flooding in western Saudi Arabia rose to at least eight on Wednesday, including three children, public safety officials said.

Most of the fatalities came in the Medina area, in the kingdom's west, where five bodies were recovered, the civil defence agency said.

Among the victims were two children, it said.

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, shut since Tuesday, will stay closed until Thursday.

Floods killed 123 people in the Red Sea city in 2009, and about 10 people two years later.

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.

Eight domestic flights were delayed there on Tuesday because of the rains.

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 a statement responding to public criticism.