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King orders aid for victims, Death toll in Jeddah flooding hits 77

Last updated: Friday, November 27, 2009 3:26 AM
JEDDAH – King Abdullah, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, has ordered provision of aid to the victims of the heavy rain that fell on Jeddah Governorate.
This was announced by Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, Emir of Makkah Region, Thursday.
The SPA quoted him as saying that the Ministry of Finance and the Civil Defense Administration have been directed to disburse immediate financial aid among the victims.
The death toll from the floods caused by Wednesday’s torrential rains in Jeddah has risen to 77, according to a Civil Defense statement Thursday. Four others died in neighboring areas. Authorities identified 21 bodies and handed them over to their families. Most of the victims were trapped inside their submerged vehicles, the Civil Defense said.
Search operations for trapped victims continued throughout the day in the most affected areas, east of Jeddah, including Quwaizah, Muntazahat, Al-Adel, Al-Rawabi, Al-Sulimaniya, and Jamia. The traffic on the caved-in Haramain Highway was halted for the second day Thursday after fears of the total collapse of the Jamia (University) Bridge.
Jeddah Governor, Prince Misha’al Bin Majed, inspected the affected areas Thursday.
Prince Khaled called on the flood victims to report to the Jeddah Governor’s office or the Civil Defense Administration to receive the necessary aid.
The Civil Defense set up an office in Quwaizah to receive displaced people.
At least 52 displaced families were provided with shelter. “Displaced families have the choice of going to a hotel or a furnished apartment in the city at the expense of the government,” said Gen. Muhammad Al-Ghamdi, Chief of the Jeddah Civil Defense.
The Dr. Abdulrahman Baksh Hospital in Quwaizah was evacuated and the 175 people trapped inside were rescued. Hospitalized patients were transferred to the other branches of the hospital in Sharfiah and Mina. King Abdul Aziz University Hospital was flooded which has made it difficult to receive more cases.
Jeddah appeared like a ghost town Thursday as its residents blamed the city’s poor water drainage infrastructure for the loss of life and damage to property.
In an interview with Saudi TV, Prince Khaled said that some unplanned districts of Jeddah were badly hit by the floods. Committees have been formed to ensure that roads are reopened and streets are cleared, he said.
He said that a report on all such unplanned areas would soon be referred to the King.
“We had already warned against the spread of such localities.”
The King, he added, had also ordered to deal with the situation and to develop those areas.
Around 1,500 houses in the small district of Abruq Al-Raghamah were flooded, with families taking refuge in upper floors and on roofs and over 3,000 vehicles were displaced by flood waters.
Wednesday’s storms dumped more than three inches of rain on the city, more than Jeddah would normally get in an entire year, leaving behind pools of stagnant water. The streets were still flooded in many areas Thursday.
Jeddah Mayoralty has deployed water tankers to pump the water out due to the lack of an efficient rainwater drainage system in the city.
Besides its tankers, the city has hired “private ones to clear the streets for smooth traffic as soon as possible,” said Hani Abu Ras, deputy mayor for services.
The Jeddah Mayoralty is being continually updated on the weather from the Presidency of Meteorology and Environment, he said. Weather forecasts predict fair weather throughout the week. – Okaz/SG/SPA
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