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RABIGH: The Saudi authorities organized a practical exercise to prepare for maritime emergencies, strengthening the Kingdom’s preparedness and improving maritime safety and environmental protection.

Maritime accidents can cause loss of life and property, pollution of water and air, destruction of the environment and more. Accident prevention is a key objective of the National Maritime Disaster Management Plan.

On Wednesday, the practical exercise “Search and Rescue 43” took place in the territorial waters of the governorate of Rabigh of the region of Mecca.

The exercise was overseen by high-level border guards, including the Director General of the Saudi Border Guards and Chairman of the Standing Committee for the Management of Maritime Disasters in the Kingdom’s Regional Waters, General Mohammad bin Abdullah Al-Shehri .

31 other members of government and non-government agencies were also present.

It aimed to prepare for maritime disasters such as collisions and accidents, which result in fuel spills, drownings, fires, explosions and loss of life.

The training – held on the Red Sea coast 45 miles north of Jeddah – included a two-hour scenario of a full rescue and evacuation operation on a McDonnell Douglas MD-90 aircraft carrying 150 passengers, including cabin crew.

It has been implemented by border guards, civil defense, Saudi Red Crescent Authority, General Directorate of Passports, among others, and has demonstrated cooperation between Saudi national authorities.

The scenario included the practice of fuel spills, fires and injured passengers, with each authority demonstrating the correct procedures to respond to emergencies.

The exercise raised the level of joint performance of government and non-government agencies in the face of accidents and disasters.

Al-Shehri said: “What we have seen today indicates good cooperation between national authorities, professionalism in the execution and control of the situation.

“Through these exercises, we aim to achieve the highest international standards in search and rescue operations. An evacuation scenario by plane was put in place despite the rarity of these disasters. However, it was implemented following international standards.

He thanked the Prince Sultan Academy of Aviation Sciences for participating in the presentation of the scenarios.

Al-Shehri added that it can often take several days to bring full-blown maritime disasters under control, but through exercises and practice scenarios, response and recovery time can be shortened.

“We look forward to further progress,” Al-Shehri said.

All phases of the training were managed and coordinated by the Jeddah Maritime Rescue Coordination Center to help the authorities achieve their goals and objectives.

The training is a continuation of previous meetings and efforts to help victims of maritime disasters.