Saudi storm kills two, closes schools and cuts road to Mecca
Agencies | Riyadh
The Daily Tribune – www.newsofbahrain.com
Heavy rains lashed the western region of Saudi Arabia yesterday, including the coastal city of Jeddah, killing at least two, officials said. The intensity of the storm also delayed flights and forced schools to close.
"Two deaths have been recorded so far, and we call on everyone not to go out unless necessary," the Mecca regional government said on its Twitter page. The Mecca region includes Jeddah, the kingdom's second-largest city of roughly four million people, and Mecca city where millions perform the hajj and umrah pilgrimages each year.
The road connecting the two, which many pilgrims use to reach Mecca, was closed yesterday once the rains began, state media reported, although it was later reopened, authorities said. The state-affiliated Al-Ekhbariya channel showed footage of worshippers at the Grand Mosque in Mecca circling the Kaaba, under a heavy downpour.
In Jeddah, images posted to social media showed standing water snarling traffic and partially submerging some vehicles. The city's King Abdulaziz International Airport said that "due to weather conditions, the departure of some flights has been delayed" and urged passengers to contact carriers for up-to-date schedules.
The official Saudi Press Agency reported before dawn that schools in the city would temporarily be closed as rains were forecast to continue throughout the day. Schools were also closed in the nearby towns of Rabigh and Khulais "to preserve the safety of male and female students", SPA said.