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RIYADH: At least two people died on Thursday as heavy rains hit western Saudi Arabia, including the coastal city of Jeddah, delaying flights and forcing schools to close, officials said.

“Two deaths have been recorded so far, and we call on everyone not to go out unless necessary,” the Makkah regional government said on its Twitter page. The Makkah region includes Jeddah, the kingdom’s second-largest city of roughly four million people, and Makkah city, the holiest city in Islam where millions perform the hajj and umrah pilgrimages each year.

Mideast sandstorms snarl traffic, close schools, harm health

The road connecting the two, which many pilgrims use to reach Makkah, was closed on Thursday once the rains began, state media reported, although it was later reopened, authorities said.

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