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Storms rage across the Arabian Peninsula

At least 18 people have been killed as torrential rain pours across the region.

Last updated: 21 Nov 2013 09:59
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The storms caused widespread power cuts in Riyadh, and closed schools and universities across the capital. [AFP]

A weather system has caused widespread flooding across the Arabian Peninsula over the past few days.

Initially the thunderstorms stretched from Saudi Arabia to Iraq, then the system slid slowly southwards.

In Saudi Arabia, the storms killed at least seven people, with five more still missing.

The capital, Riyadh, and the northeastern city of Arar were amongst the worst hit.

The storms flooded a number of underpasses on major routes around Riyadh, causing widespread disruption, and the north of the city was plunged into darkness as the storms pulled down powerlines.

Schools and universities across the capital have been closed since Sunday.

Iraq was also badly hit, as the rising flood waters submerged streets and caused buildings to collapse. At least 11 people are known to have died across the country, most of those were killed when their homes collapsed in on them.

In order to try to limit the damage caused by the storms, authorities have tried declaring national holidays. Another holiday was called earlier in the month.

The heaviest rain that has been reported was 112mm in just 24 hours in the Iraqi city of Karbalaa.

The International Airport in Riyadh reported 20mm of rain in a day, just a little more than Doha, where 18mm was received.

The rain is now moving away, across the United Arab Emirates and Oman. Although heavy rain is still expected, the system is weakening, so the flooding should be less extensive.

The region regularly floods when it rains. This is partly due to the lack of drains and also thanks to the sandy soil of the region, which cannot readily absorb water. In May last year, around 20 people were killed after torrential rain swamped parts of Saudi Arabia.

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Source:
Al Jazeera
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