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Saudi floods death toll rises to seven
November 21, 2013, 11:20 am
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Search operations underway for five more people missing

The death toll of the heavy rains in the Saudi capital Riyadh has risen to seven amid concerns it would go up further as search and rescue operations are still underway to locate five more people reported missing.

Reports said that five of the victims were in Riyadh and two in of Arar in the northeast of the kingdom. Four of the missing people are in the Riyadh area while one is in Qunfuda on the Red Sea coast. The search operations in Arar were called off after two of the missing people were found reportedly safe with their relatives. The missing person and in Aweeqilah was also located.

The civil defence in the capital, the country’s hardest-hit city by the particularly severe cloudbursts, has been exerting relentless efforts to deal with the high number of calls requesting immediate assistance.

“The civil defence received 8,258 calls for help on Tuesday and Wednesday morning,” a spokesperson said. “The teams were able to assist 933 Saudi citizens and residents, provide shelter for 338 people who had nowhere to go.

They also pulled out 379 vehicles carried by the rainwaters.” Abdullah Al Arabi Al Harithi, the spokesperson for the civil defence, urged all people to be cautious.

“We warn everyone, particularly young people to exercise the highest levels of caution and not to venture near water streams,” he said, quoted by local daily Al Riyadh on Thursday. “We urge everyone to watch out for landslides and for torrential rains and to follow the instructions sent out on mobiles or posted on social networks,” he said.

In the Eastern Province, the education authorities said that school would re-open following reports that the weather conditions would improve. On Wednesday, all education facilities were ordered shut.

Several colleges and schools in Riyadh and other areas have been closed for days. Social media unanimously praised the civil defence teams as the real heroes of the drama unfolding in the country, highlighting their courage and dedication.

However, contractors who failed to meet regular safety standards in the construction of the infrastructure and buildings have been harshly criticised by media users, who in a typical local manner, warned them that they would answer to God for cheating and causing tragedies for several families through their negligence and greed.

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