RIYADH: Heavy rains struck western Saudi Arabia on Thursday, including the coastal city of Jeddah, causing flights to be delayed and prompting the closure of schools. At least two people died as a result, according to officials.
The Makkah regional government issued a call for everyone to stay indoors unless absolutely essential after two fatalities were reported thus far.
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The Makkah region comprises Makkah City, the holiest city in Islam where millions of people undertake the hajj and umrah pilgrimages each year, as well as Jeddah, the second-largest city in the kingdom with a population of around four million.
As soon as it started to rain on Thursday, the two-way road that many pilgrims use to get to Makkah was shut down, according to official media. However, it was later reopened, according to authorities.
The programme aired footage of worshippers surrounding the Kaaba, the cube-shaped building that serves as the centre of Islam, while it was pouring outside the Grand Mosque in Makkah.
Images shared on social media from Jeddah showed traffic snarled by standing water and some vehicles partially submerged.
The departure of some flights has been delayed, according to the city’s King Abdulaziz International Airport, which urged passengers to call companies for the most recent schedules.
Schools in the city would be temporarily closed, according to the official Saudi Press Agency, as rain was expected to last the entire day.
In order to “preserve the safety of male and female students,” schools were also closed in the nearby towns of Rabigh and Khulais, according to SPA.