Middle East

Severe weather buffets Saudi Arabia, at least 24 dead

BEIRUT: Saudi authorities warned residents in the southwest city of Al-Baha Friday that a dam was likely to burst and flood the local area, in a week where unusually severe weather conditions have killed 24.

Water levels in Al-Aqiq dam are rising steeply, Civil Defense spokesman Lt Col. Jamaan Bin Days al-Ghamdi told the Saudi Press Agency, adding that safety patrols would be increased to protect residents.

His comments come in a week where the largely desert state has witnessed heavy downpours and flashfloods.

At least 20 people have drowned and “operations are ongoing for those still missing,” civil defense officials said Thursday.

Rescue teams have evacuated 894 people in six villages in the southwestern Bisha province after a sand dam at the valley of Tabala partially collapsed, it added.

The vast Arabian Peninsula country has not experienced such a high volume of rainfall for 25 years.

But around 10 people were killed in 2011 when flooding swept through the western city of Jeddah, where 123 people also perished in floods in 2009.

The inability of Jeddah’s infrastructure to drain off flood waters and uncontrolled construction were blamed for the deaths at the time.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on May 04, 2013, on page 11.




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