Two including Lankan die from coal heater gases in Hail

Saudi Arabia

Two expatriates died and another was critically injured after breathing in toxic gases from a coal-burning heater in Hail on Monday morning, the police said.

The dead are an Indian, 28, and a Sri Lankan, 34. The injured man is a Sri Lankan labourer, spokesman of Hail police Col. Abdul Aziz Al-Zenaidi said. The injured man was rushed to King Khaled Hospital in the provincial capital.

Preliminary investigations found that the men died after breathing in the toxic gases of their heater’s smouldering coal. They were sleeping in a tightly shut room in a building close to the Jarallah Market in Hail. Investigations are continuing.

A Civil Defence source confirmed the cause of death was from the toxic gases emitted by the burning coal. Biting cold in the region drives poor people to use cheap and often risky methods to keep warm. The mercury dropped to below zero recently, a record in recent times in the province.

The Civil Defence said people should not sleep in rooms heated by coal and oil heaters. It warned the public against exposure to ice, especially children. It also said people should not sit or sleep close to heaters in their homes, not operate kerosene heaters in closed areas, and not place inflammable articles close to heaters.

A local weather forecast said there would be severe cold in the northern regions of the Kingdom with the likelihood of relatively cold conditions in all other provinces especially in the morning hours. There would be fog in the hilly areas in the southwest of the country early in the morning.

The wind would be westerly on the Red Sea and northerly or north-westerly at speeds of 15 to 42 km/hr, with waves of up to one to two meters at noon.

The wind in the Arabian Gulf would likely be around 55 km at noon, the forecast said.

Many people were fascinated by the snow-covered sand dunes in the Turba village, about 180 km north of Hail, following heavy snowfall early Monday morning. (ArabNews)