A huge explosion rocked eastern Riyadh this morning, sparking a discussion on mainstream media coverage and praising Twitter for being a source of instant news.
Initial reports said that a tanker carrying flammable liquids crashed into a flyover in the Saudi capital. At least 10 people have been killed and over 50 were injured in the accident, which caused the collapse of a bridge and an a multi-storey factory, which was almost levelled by the blast. Video footage shared on video-sharing site YouTube also shows the charred remains of cars and extensive damage to surrounding buildings.
At first, the complaints on Twitter were about lack of news:
Saudi blogger Yazeen Al Mogren writes:
الإنفجار له أكثر من ساعة حتى الآن ولا اي موقع الكتروني جاب أي معلومة عنه (جريدة الرياض-الوطن-سبق)بس قناة العربية والخبر مغلوط
@Yzd8: The explosion happened about an hour ago and until now not a single electronic site has covered it (Al Riyadh newspaper, Al Watan, Sabaq). Only Al Arabiya covered it and the news is incorrect
In return, Bader Aujan credits Twitter with breaking the news:
بعد ٣٠ دقيقة من أول تغريدة عن #انفجار_الرياض يظهر الخبر على قنوات الأخبار! شكراً تويتر
@bader_aujan: 30 minutes after the first tweet on the Al Riyadh explosion, and the news finally makes it to news channels. Thank you Twitter!
And when news outlets started covering the story, more confusion followed:
Ibrahim Al Qahtani tweets:
من العربيةوعدم وجود وفيات..إلى رويترز وانفجار مبنى..مرورا بالمنار و تفجير متعمد..وصولا إلى القنوات السعودية اللي مكبره راسها
Hadi Al Mnis shares this photograph:
@brhom: From Al Arabiya, there are no deaths, to Reuters and the explosion in a building.. to Al Manar and a deliberate explosion to the Saudi channels, which are ignoring the story
#إنفجار_الرياض #إنفجار_شرق_الرياض القناة الإخبارية تصرح بأنة لا حالات وفاة وعارضين هالصورة pic.twitter.com/nT5H70CA
@hadialmnis: Al Ikbariya says there are no deaths and they are showing this photograph
And Syrian The 47th chimes in:
@THE_47th: Alarabiya says “limited deaths” have happened in Riyadh. As opposed to what? The death continuum?
Saudi veteran blogger Ahmed Al Omran sums up reactions to the coverage, saying:
@ahmed: Many people in my timeline seem skeptical about Al Arabiya and Saudi TV reporting of Riyadh explosion as a gas truck accident. Pics look bad
On YouTube, Hussain Dawood shares this video, of the explosion:
Ahmed Al Omran comments:
@ahmed: This seems to be on of the first videos following explosion in Riyadh. Govt sources say it is a fuel truck accident http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmAlmQgRFbQ …
This video, by Zaid Mohsen, shows the extent of the damage at the explosion site:
And Amr Alamri shares another video of the explosion site, showing part of the damage:
The explosion garnered a lot of reactions from across the Arab world.
Egyptian blogger Marwa Rakha asks:
هي السعودية مالها اليومين دول؟ تفجيرات و ضحايا كل شوية!
And Yazeed Al Mogren shares this shot from a Blackberry message being circulating, which blames Iran for the explosion:
@marwarakha: What's wrong with Saudi Arabia nowadays? Explosions and victims on a regular basis
The message reads [ar]:
An Iranian nuclear missile explodes in East Riyadh.
May God curse the Shia
Meanwhile, @DesertFlower26 urges social media users:
@DesertFlower26: please guys be considerate & stop sharing photos of the victims! It's inappropriate. It's heartbreaking for their families.