AL-EIS/RIYADH – Civil Defense forces evacuated Tuesday night all the remaining residents of Al-Eis, some 26,000 people, after an earth tremor recording 5.39 on the Richter scale hit the town and surrounding region.
Authorities closed all entrance routes coming from Madina, Yanbu and Umluj to Al-Eis town and villages in the vicinity.
By Wednesday morning streets and houses in Al-Eis were deserted and police and Civil Defense authorities had departed from their stations. A Civil Defense chief in the region said that some personnel and equipment had been moved to the outskirts of the town where back-up forces were stationed, while other teams had relocated to the shelter camp on the Al-Eis to Yanbu Road.
Civilians gathered at one entry point to the town on Wednesday morning seeking permission to enter the area to recover belongings from their homes. Permission was denied, however, but some were observed escaping the attention of officials and taking their vehicles across desert tracks into the town.
Prince Abdul Aziz Bin Majed Bin Abdul Aziz, Emir of the province of Madina, earlier chaired a meeting with Civil Defense officials at the Royal Commission headquarters in Yanbu Industrial City to discuss the impact of the Al-Eis tremors, and is now scheduled to make an inspection tour of the area.
The Saudi Air Force on Wednesday transported Civil Defense emergency services to Al-Eis to provide support to existing personnel, and 120 emergency officers were transferred to Omluj.
The Commander of Special Emergency Forces said that Tabuk forces had been stationed in Omluj and Makkah forces in Yanbu, with Asir and Eastern Province forces on standby.
Civil Defense Special Forces in Riyadh also delivered specialized emergency manpower and equipment to Omluj.
Parents, school pupils and teachers evacuated from the region have, meanwhile, been reassured that the authorities have in place plans to ensure as little interruption to their schoolwork as possible.
Abdullah Bin Saleh Al-Muqbil, Undersecretary at the Ministry of Education for Student Affairs, said in Riyadh Wednesday that the ministry had instructed school principals to provide evacuated pupils with the necessary documents to transfer them to other schools.
Al-Muqbil added that teachers from evacuated schools would be transferred to substitute schools opened by the ministry in response to the situation and that teachers had been asked to report to their education administrations on Saturday to be informed of their new destinations.
Meanwhile, the Saudi Geological Survey (SGS) said Wednesday that an air inspection at “Al-Harrat As-Shaqqah” (lava field) and the surrounding areas revealed the existence of what it described as ground groves at the seismic activity area.
It explained the increase in the number of tremors on the rise in temperature and concentration of gas in some regions of volcanic area.
Al-Muqbi said the ministry and Civil Defense authorities in areas hit by earth tremors were fully prepared to address the concerns of schoolchildren and teachers in the event of emergency.
Al-Muqbil said that all students have been evacuated from schools in affected areas following instructions from Prince Faisal Bin Abdullah Bin Mohammed, Minister of Education.
u Visible cracks in Yanbu houses – P2
With contributions from Muhammad Talib Al-Ahmadi, Khalid Al-Shallali, Ali Al-Harbi, Abdullah Obeid Al-Ghamdi and Mansour Al-Shihri