Saudi flood victim toll increases

Torrential rain around Saudi port city of Jeddah claims over one hundred lives.

    Some 1,400 people living in and around Jeddah had to be evacuated by emergency services [AFP]

    No pilgrims attending the annual Muslim haj pilgrimage 80 km away in Mecca were among the dead, though Jeddah is the main point of travel for pilgrims leaving the city.

    Local anger

    But Al Jazeera correspondent Omar Chtriwala reports on Sunday that bodies are still being recovered and that the toll is likely to rise.

    Local anger places the blame for the high number of fatalities firmly with the government.

    Waleed Abu al-Khair, a Riyadh-based human rights lawyer, says he plan to file complaints against the civic service departments.

    A group launched on Facebook earlier in the week entitled “National Campaign to Save the City of Jeddah” in Arabic, criticises the government response and has registered 11,000 members so far.

    Numerous media reports have flagged up the issue of Jeddah’s poor drainage and infrastructure in recent years, and the city saw water shortages over summer.

    Saudi authorities said they are working around the clock to clear Jeddah’s roads of hundreds of vehicles destroyed by the floods before pilgrims from abroad begin to leave the country via the city’s air and sea ports.

    The Saudi interior ministry on Saturday said 1.6 million visas had been issued to pilgrims from abroad, while around 700,000 permits were granted to those coming from inside the kingdom. Public security data, however, showed more than 2.5 million people had entered the Jamarat Bridge on Friday.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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