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SHAKE AND BLOW
Rare downpours and floods hit Saudi capital
by Staff Writers
Riyadh (AFP) Nov 17, 2013


Toll from Vietnam floods rises to 34: official
Hanoi (AFP) Nov 17, 2013 - Devastating floods have killed at least 34 people and left 11 others missing in central Vietnam, local authorities said Sunday, describing the deluge as the worst for over a decade.

Television footage on Sunday showed inundated houses and streets in the town of Hoi An and the former imperial City of Hue, both classed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, where hundreds of tourists have been evacuated over recent days.

At least 34 people have been killed over several days of flooding which were the most destructive since 1999, a regional official told AFP.

"Eleven other people are missing. More than 100,000 houses have been flooded and transport by road, air and rail has been severely affected across the region," said Nguyen Quang Trung, an official in the coastal city of Danang, adding several central provinces had been hit.

"Rain continued to fall on Sunday morning in the coastal provinces of Quang Ngai and Binh Dinh -- where at least 20 people (of the 34) were killed," Trung said, adding damage is initially estimated at around $65 million.

Local authorities on Saturday said around 20,000 people were evacuated after at least six deaths during the floods, caused by heavy rain from a new tropical depression in the South China Sea.

Hundreds of thousands of people were evacuated last weekend before the arrival of Typhoon Haiyan which wreaked devastation on the Philippines, before tearing across the South China Sea.

But the communist nation was spared the worst of the typhoon's power as it weakened before striking Vietnam's coast.

Rare heavy downpours triggered flash floods in the Saudi capital on Sunday forcing schools and universities to close and prompting calls by the authorities for citizens to remain indoors.

At least three people were reported missing, the state news agency SPA said quoting civil defence spokesman Colonel Abdullah al-Harithi.

He added that authorities assisted dozens of people trapped by the floods, a rare phenomenon to hit the capital of the desert kingdom.

Heavy rains, accompanied by thunderstorms, have lashed Riyadh since late Saturday triggering flash floods in several districts and cutting off power in the city's north, according to residents.

Harithi urged Riyadh citizens, estimated at more than five million people, to stay away from rivers, valleys and flooded tunnels while the education ministry ordered schools and university closed Sunday.

Saudi Arabia, like other desert countries, rarely sees heavy rainfall and religious leaders often organise prayers for rain.

But in May last year around 20 people were killed in flooding that swept parts of Saudi Arabia, which had not experienced such a high volume of rainfall for 25 years.

And in 2011, around 10 people were killed in floods in the western city of Jeddah, where 123 people also perished in floods in 2009.

The inability of Jeddah's infrastructure to drain off flood waters and uncontrolled construction in and around the city were blamed at the time for the high number of victims.

The national weather service has warned of new storms expected Sunday in Riyadh and other parts of the kingdom.

Floods hit thousands in S.Africa
Cape Town (AFP) Nov 16, 2013 - Widespread flooding after heavy rains in South Africa has affected over 18,000 people, a emergency management official said Saturday.

Weekend rains caused floods that blocked roads, provoked landslides and cut off power to areas around Cape Town, according to the city's disaster management spokesman Wilfred Solomons-Johannes.

"Approximately 18,000 people were affected, an evacuation was initiated and people were sheltered in various halls," Solomons-Johannes was quoted as saying by Sapa news agency.

"Engineering crews cleared up many of the areas where these incidents occurred and will, during the course of tomorrow (Sunday) proceed with recovery work," he added.

At least one woman died and another is missing after floodwaters swept their car off a bridge near Stellenbosch, 40 kilometres (25 miles) from Cape Town, police said.

"The ladies were on their way to church when the heavy waters swayed their car into the river," said police spokesman Thembinkosi Kinana.

The woman's body was found Saturday.

Meanwhile rescue workers had to evacuate 129 patients from a clinic in Somerset West late Friday night after a river broke its banks and flooded the facility 44 kilometres (27 miles) from Cape Town, according to provincial disaster management spokeswoman Charlotte Powell.

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