Severe flooding is being reported in Saudi Arabia, especially in the kingdom’s capital of Riyadh, with the government closing schools and urging people to stay indoors amid heavy rain. Flooding is rare in the country dominated by the Arabian Desert.
Witnesses in Riaydh, which is also the country’s largest city, are reporting flooded streets and shops. Pictures posted on Twitter show cars drowning in rainwater.
Saudi Civil Defense warned citizens to stay indoors for their own safety, Al Arabiya reported.
Weather forecasts are predicting heavy rains to continue to batter Saudi Arabia for the entire weekend. The eastern part of the country looks to be hit the most by the rains.
The government is setting up a disaster management center in the holy city of Mecca and is planning to close schools and evacuate people in low-lying areas, Bahrain’s Gulf Daily News reported.
Rains in the northwest city of Ha’il are expected to flood the Al Adeera valley, according to media reports.
Meanwhile, witnesses reported that villagers 70 kilometers west of Ha’il were taking shelter on the rooftops of houses, mosques, and even mountaintops as the flooding began.
The desert kingdom has in the past been criticized for its lack of preparedness for such situations, as flooding is rare in that part of the world.
Residents were killed during flash floods in Riyadh, Baha, and Ha’il on May 13. The rain was reportedly the heaviest in more than 25 years.
Floods in the port city of Jeddah, located on the Red Sea, killed 123 people in 2009 and 10 others in 2011.
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