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03 March 2024

Heavy rainfall hits Mecca

Heavy rainfall over Mecca on Saturday submerged some districts and streets in Islam's holiest city, Saudi media reported, raising fears of a repeat of deadly floods in a neighbouring city in November.

State-owned Al-Ekhbariya television channel showed a few pilgrims praying on wet white-marbled floors of the Grand Mosque while others walked around the cubic-shaped Kaaba dome at its centre.

Mecca's location at the heart of a mountainous desert valley makes it vulnerable to flash floods that can be caused by unusually strong rainfalls. The Kaaba had to be repaired several times in the past after being damaged by floods.

The rainfall coincides with the spring school break which started on Thursday and usually attracts thousands of visitors especially from Saudi Arabia.

While rains are rare in the desert kingdom, about 130 people were killed in November at the height of the haj season after heavy rainfalls over the city of Jeddah, about 80km west of Mecca, caused floods that also damaged hundreds of properties due to the city's poor sewage system.

Abdallah al-Jeddawi, from the Saudi civil defence, told al-Ekhbariya that no floods had been reported in Mecca.

"Conditions remain reassuring. Some streets and districts (in Mecca) did get submerged with water," he said without giving more details.

Saudi Al-Hayat newspaper's online news service said civil defence was working to rescue 30 people who were stranded in their cars in Mecca.


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