Two people were killed after unusually heavy rain caused major flooding in the Saudi Arabian city of Jeddah on Thursday, the local authorities have said.
The death toll was announced on Twitter by the Saudi Defense Ministry spokesman, who urged the public to stay indoors.
The National Center for Meteorology (NCM) said the amount of rainfall reached 179mm in six hours, beating the previous record for the area set in 2009, when devastating flooding resulted in the deaths of more than 100 people, with 350 others missing.
Videos from Jeddah show cars half-submerged in the water and being swept away by strong torrents. Several people were rescued from their vehicles, according to local media.
Jeddah, which is located on the Red Sea coast and has a population of around 4 million, is often referred to as ‘the gateway to Mecca’, Islam’s holiest city. The rain led to traffic on the road between Mecca and Jeddah being suspended for hours.
The city’s airport also said that “due to weather conditions, the departure of some flights has been delayed.”
Schools in Jeddah were closed “to preserve the safety” of the students, state-run Saudi Press Agency reported. Students already had a day off on Wednesday as a national holiday was declared after the Saudi Arabian football team defeated Argentina in the World Cup in Qatar.
More than 2,500 workers were deployed to Jeddah following the storm to deal with the aftermath of the flooding and facilitate the restoration of traffic.
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