Heavy rains hit western Saudi Arabia on Thursday, including the coastal city of Jeddah, causing flights to be delayed and forcing the closure of schools. At least two people died as a result, according to officials.
According to Makkah regional Government on its Twitter page:
“Two deaths have been recorded so far, and we call on everyone not to go out unless necessary.”
As soon as it started to rain on Thursday, the two-way road that many pilgrims use to travel to Makkah was shut down, according to state media. However, it was later reopened, according to authorities.
The Al-Ekhbariya channel, which is state-affiliated, showed video of worshippers at the Grand Mosque in Makkah worshipping under heavy downpour.
Pictures shared on social media from Jeddah showed traffic stalled by standing water and some vehicles half submerged.
The departure of several aircraft has been delayed, according to the city’s King Abdulaziz International Airport, which asked travelers to contact companies for the most updated schedules.
Before daybreak, the official Saudi Press Agency announced that city schools will be temporarily closed due to the expected persistence of the rain.
In order to “preserve the safety of male and female pupils,” schools were also closed in the nearby towns of Rabigh and Khulais, according to SPA.
Final examinations are currently taking place in the kingdom, although all schools were already closed on Wednesday as a result of King Salman’s proclamation of a holiday in the wake of Saudi Arabia shocking World Cup victory against Argentina.
In Jeddah, where locals have long complained about deficient infrastructure, winter rainstorms and flooding happen practically every year. In the city, floods claimed the lives of 123 people in 2009 and 10 more two years later.