RIYADH: A Saudi train derailed near the eastern city of Dammam on Friday, injuring 18 people, after flooding from heavy rains caused the rail line to drift, the Saudi Railways Organization (SRO) said in a statement.
The 193 passengers and six crew members were transferred to another train and taken to Dammam after the incident that occurred at about 1 a.m., it said, adding that all injuries were minor.
Giving details about the incident, the SRO said the train went off course because part of the railway track drifted at Kilo 10, near Dammam, as a result of torrential floods that went opposite its regular path.
“This caused the train to go off course and carriages were separated from each other, and one train car overturned,” it said.
Heavy rains have lashed Saudi Arabia for several days, causing severe flash floods throughout the Kingdom and at least one death in southern Asir province.
Flooding can be politically sensitive in the country, where previous incidents — notably in the second city of Jeddah — have prompted anger over the government’s perceived failure to build suitable prevention systems.
Saudi Railway said in a statement that as soon as the accident took place, an emergency situation was declared, and relevant authorities were notified according to the protocol for these situations. A reserve train was operated to transport all the passengers and the crew members. As soon as passengers reached the Dammam railway station, first aid was administered to 18 passengers who suffered minor injuries.
The head of the organization, Dr. Mohammad Al-Rmeih, said the damaged line has been closed since then, and on Friday morning, the organization started to mend the damaged sector in order to continue services after checking the safety and readiness of the line.
The SRO expressed its sorrow for this accident and apologized to the passengers for inconveniences. He praised security and medical bodies who followed up on the accident, and for the efforts of the organization’s team.