RIYADH, Nov 21: Heavy rainfall caused hundreds of accidents but no reported fatalities in Riyadh yesterday, according to an official from the Traffic Department, who said the department received 386 accident reports in the morning alone.
“That number is of what has been reported from 5 a.m. to noon,” said Maj. Ibrahim Al-Almaai.
The Saudi Red Crescent worked in line with the traffic police to ferry the injured to hospital. No figures were available on the number of injuries.
Al-Almaai said the largest number came from the eastern part of the capital where 149 accidents occurred yesterday. He also said that two particularly large accidents took place on King Fahd Road and another on the Northwestern Ring Road where traffic came to a standstill for nearly two hours.
“One of the accidents involved a large truck smashing into three cars after failing to stop because the road was slippery,” he said.
Al-Almaai said officers who were getting off night shifts were asked to remain at work to handle the rush of rain-related incidents.
“Our priority mission was to first clear the smashed cars from busy main roads to ensure a smoothness of traffic,” he said.
The rain started at 1 a.m. and continued to pour until noon yesterday. Roads become slick due to the buildup of vehicular oil residue on the roads; they become slippery as rain loosens the buildup. Roads that receive only the occasional rainfall tend to be more slick when they get wet than roads that are regularly rain-washed due to having a thicker layer of oil from leaking engines.
An official from the Presidency of Meteorology and Environment Protection said the capital witnessed 5.5 mm of rains during the first four hours of the showers.
The official, who did not want to be named, said the south of Riyadh experienced the heaviest rainfall compared to other parts of the city. Many youngsters showed up late at school yesterday. Government employees were also late coming to work, as many of them arrived an hour or two late.
“It took more than an hour to return to office when I went to pick my child from school during the lunch break,” said Mohammed Ali, an accountant working in a private establishment.
Muhammad Al-Anazi, who works in the private sector, said he saw many cars submerged in water in the King Fahd District. “It took me double the time I usually take due to the traffic standstills,” he said.
According to eyewitnesses, many of the traffic jams that occurred in the capital were not just due to accidents, but also due to cars breaking down on the road.
Mohammed Hussein, principal of the Bangladesh International School, said the rain caused a lot of inconvenience to parents and students. “Children were late to school and their parents came late to pick them from the school,” he said.
The school did not conduct the regular noon prayers since the open air auditorium where prayers are held was flooded.
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