Floods caused by torrential rain swept through parts of Makkah and Hail on Thursday killing two people and injuring several others.
The flooding also caused power cuts and damaged hundreds of cars across Makkah neighborhoods, according to eyewitnesses.
Thousands of Umrah pilgrims were stranded inside the Grand Mosque after Maghrib, many only able to reach their accommodation after midnight, according to eyewitnesses. Worshippers prayed Isha in the heavy rain.
The Civil Defense in Hail said five brothers driving in a four-wheel-drive vehicle tried to cross the flooded Al-Khafj Valley. The force of the water overturned their vehicle.
Maj. Nafea bin Alian Al-Makhalafa, media spokesperson of the Civil Defense in Hail, said that one brother had rescued three of his brothers. The fifth brother was trapped inside the vehicle and drowned.
Brig. Col. Saleh Al-Alyani, spokesperson for the Civil Defense in Makkah, said an African expatriate died in Mansour district when a tree fell on him. The police are investigating, he said.
Al-Alyani said the organization's operations room received 1,356 emergency calls, mostly about cars caught up in the floods, falling trees and power cuts. A special operations room has been set up in Makkah to monitor the situation and coordinate relief and evacuation efforts, he said.
The Civil Defense deployed helicopters, 23 patrols and 16 rescue teams with heavy machinery for emergency operations. It also sent 32 officers and six staff members on motorbikes to the Grand Mosque to assist pilgrims.
The Saudi Electricity Company said its engineers and technicians were monitoring the situation in Makkah.
Mohammed Abdul Raheem, a pilgrim, said. “It was extremely pleasurable to perform Tawaf amid the heavy rain and thunder.”
The courtyards of the Grand Mosque were deserted. This included the area popular with pilgrims outside King Abdulaziz Gate. There was not a single person sitting or sleeping there, said Mohammed Akbar Abubaker, who works and lives opposite the Grand Mosque in Makkah. He told Arab News that the rainfall was unusual for this time of the year.
Part of the roof of a leading hypermarket inside the Makkah Mall collapsed but no one was hurt, according to eyewitness Mohammed Hammed. He told Arab News that his friend’s car was swept away by floodwaters at Souk Hijaz shopping mall on Jeddah Road.
The flooding also damaged hundreds of cars in other parts of Makkah including Sharayah, Aziziyah, Misfalah, and Otaibiah, according to residents of these areas who spoke to Arab News over the phone.
The Jeddah-Makkah Expressway was briefly closed on Thursday night because of the flooding. The highway to Riyadh near Hada Mountain remained closed on Friday as a precautionary measure.
The Civil Defense warned that there was a possibility of more rain, thunder and lightning across Makkah, Jeddah and Hail, and urged the public to be alert.