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Saudi scrambles rescue teams for Jeddah floods

by Staff Writers
Riyadh (AFP) Jan 26, 2011
Saudi emergency services mounted a major rescue operation in Jeddah on Wednesday as water levels rose rapidly in the Red Sea coast commercial capital in which floods killed 123 people in 2009.

King Abdullah ordered the mobilisation of all relevant services "because of the havoc caused by rains and floods in Jeddah and its environs," the official SPA news agency said.

"We must send reinforcements immediately to limit the damage as rains are expected to continue in the coming days," the king was quoted as saying.

He added: "The minister of finance has been instructed to allocate the funds necessary to put all emergency resources and reinforcements" at the disposal of rescue and response teams.

King Abdullah, in Morocco recovering after undergoing surgery late 2010 for a herniated disc in the United States, warned that "whoever is careless in this serious matter will be severely punished."

After the November 2009 floods in Jeddah, the king sought legal action against officials and contractors for alleged corruption, mismanagement of real estate and land planning that exacerbated the effects of floods.

The inability of Jeddah's infrastructure to drain the waters and uncontrolled construction in and around the city led to a high number of flood victims.

Thousands of families lost their homes as 10,785 buildings were destroyed, a survey found.

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