Officials held over floods

2009-12-28 11:18

Jeddah - Around 40 Saudi officials and contractors have been detained in the probe into the November 25 flood in Jeddah which killed 120 people, local media reported on Monday.

Eight top officials of the Red Sea city's mayor's office were taken away by police on Sunday as an unprecedented public investigation was underway, driven by public anger over the disaster, the Saudi Gazette reported.

The Jeddah officials rounded up by two dozen police officers included an assistant to the mayor, four department heads, and the former head of the city's projects division, the Jeddah-based daily said.

That came on the heels of another 30 or more officials, consultants and contractors being taken in by police earlier to face an investigation committee ordered by King Abdullah and led by Prince Khaled al-Faisal, the powerful governor of the Mecca region, which includes Jeddah.

On November 25, uncommonly heavy rainfall sparked a flash flood in the kingdom's second largest city that submerged homes and roadways, drowning 120 people and leaving another 40 unaccounted for.

Thousands were left homeless and more than 7 000 vehicles were destroyed in the city, which has a population estimated at more than three million.

The disaster provoked unprecedented outrage, with Jeddah citizens calling on the Internet for the sacking of public officials who had not kept their promises to build adequate drainage in the city.

King Abdullah has said several times that officials and others found responsible for mismanagement will be punished.

"We will not show any leniency to any official who is found negligent in this case," he told the Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Siyassah in an interview published Saturday.