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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 January, 2005, 12:27 GMT
Flooding kills 29 in Saudi Arabia
Cars are swept away in flash floods in Mecca, Saudi Arabia
The storms are said to be the worst to hit Saudi Arabia in 20 years
Heavy rain and flash floods have killed 29 people in Saudi Arabia's western city of Medina, according to reports.

The storm, which disrupted the last day of the annual Hajj pilgrimage, is believed to have been the worst to hit the desert kingdom in some 20 years.

Regional governor Prince Muqrin bin Abdul Aziz said another 17 people were injured, al-Madina newspaper reported.

The governor said the storm had caused enormous damage to roads, electricity and communications networks.

But he said the floods had not affected the thousands of pilgrims who came to Medina after completing the Hajj in Mecca and Mina at the weekend.

Swept away

According to the Arab News paper, more than 400 buses left Mecca for Medina, taking pilgrims to visit the Prophet Mohammed's mosque and tomb in Islam's second-most sacred city.

Prince Muqrin said most of the 29 people killed had underestimated the danger of walking or driving down Medina's valleys after heavy rains.

Among them were eight members of a 13-strong family packed into one vehicle which was swept away as it tried to cross a flooded valley, the al-Watan paper said.

Two people visiting Saudi Arabia for the Hajj pilgrimage were reportedly killed and nearly 200 pilgrims injured when heavy rains hit the Mecca area on Saturday.

Although Saudi Arabia is one of the most arid countries in the world, severe rainstorms are common in the mountainous region along its west coast.

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