Saudi floods claim 103 lives, 1,400 rescued

November 29, 2009

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A handout picture released by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) on November 27, 2009 shows a rescue mission by a Saudi civil defence helicopter of two men who were among nearly 200 people caught in flash flooding that hit the region of Jeddah in southwestern Saudi Arabia, on the road between the Red Sea port and the holy city of Makkah. — AFP

DUBAI Saudi emergency services said on Sunday the death toll from floods that tore through the port city of Jeddah this week had risen to 103, with another 1,400 rescued, the state news agency reported on Sunday.

Torrents of water inundated the Red Sea port on Wednesday after Saudi Arabia saw some of the heaviest rainfall in years.

Many of the victims were drowned or were killed by collapsing bridges and in car crashes.

Civil defence planes flew over the affected areas searching for missing people, the Jeddah authorities said in a statement to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA).

No pilgrims attending the annual Muslim Hajj pilgrimage 80 km away in Mecca were among the dead, officials have said. Jeddah is the main entry point to the kingdom for pilgrims.

Newspapers have repeatedly reported on the poor condition of the sewerage infrastructure of the city, where many people live in unauthorised developments built on dry riverbeds.

About 1.6 million pilgrims have come to Saudi Arabia from abroad for the Hajj, the worlds largest regular religious gathering.