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Deadly rains pound the Middle East

Dozens killed as flooding hits the normally desert-dry countries of Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Iran, and Qatar.

Unusual heavy rains have poured down on the Middle East, causing flash floods and resulting in the deaths of dozens of people.

Rains and flooding killed 18 people throughout Saudi Arabia and 915 had to be rescued from inside their vehicles, the General Directorate of Saudi Civil Defence said on Thursday.

Floodwaters inundated roadways in the capital Riyadh, Mecca, and the mountainous south of the mostly desert kingdom, the directorate said in a statement.

Videos posted on social media showed cars submerged in water in the southwestern city of Abha.

Heavy rains lashed Saudi Arabia for several days and the education ministry closed schools in and around the capital.

In neighbouring Yemen, heavy rainfall in several parts of the country caused widespread flooding that killed at least 16 people and caused the collapse of small dams, including two in Hajja and Omran provinces north of the capital, Sanaa, security officials and the Interior Ministry said on Thursday.

Damage to property was particularly heavy with rushing muddy water cutting off roads and sweeping away cars and cattle, according to the officials.

Besides Hajja and Omran, unusually heavy rainfall over the past 24 hours has also hit Sanaa and the southern port of Aden.

Iran's state TV reported on Thursday that heavy precipitation in the country's western and southwestern provinces resulted in flash floods that killed two people.

The wet weather continued in neighbouring Qatar, with heavy rains and hail backed by a lightning storm.

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