Heavy floods hit Dubai, airport as Oman toll rises to 18

In World
April 16, 2024


Torrential rain flooded roads, homes and malls and briefly halted operations at Dubai’s airport as storms lashed the Gulf on Tuesday, after leaving at least 18 dead in Oman.

Dubai, the Middle East’s financial centre, was paralysed by the heavy storms that caused widespread flooding around the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

Flagship shopping centres Dubai Mall and Mall of the Emirates both suffered flooding and water was ankle-deep at at least one Dubai Metro station.

Roads and residential communities also suffered heavy flooding in scenes repeated around the oil-rich Emirates, a desert country where rain is an unusual event.

Read more: More rainfall expected in Karachi on April 17 and 18

Schools were shut across the UAE and were expected to remain closed on Wednesday, when further storms, including hail, are forecast.

Dubai airport, the world’s busiest international hub measured by passenger traffic, suspended operations for 25 minutes and cancelled more than 50 flights.

Unconfirmed images on social media showed planes taxiing across an apron flooded with deep standing water.

“Due to the intense storm, operations were temporarily suspended for 25 minutes this afternoon, but have since recommenced, and are now in recovery mode,” a Dubai Airports spokesperson said.

The Asian Champions League football semi-final between the UAE’s Al Ain and Saudi side Al Hilal, due to be hosted in Al Ain, was postponed for 24 hours because of the weather.

The weather board “urged residents to take all the precautions… and to stay away from areas of flooding and water accumulation” in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

Both the Emirati and Omani governments have previously warned that climate change is likely to lead to more flooding.

Individual weather events are often difficult to link to climate change, but scientists say that it increases both the likelihood and strength of extreme weather events.

Bahrain was also hit by heavy rain and flooding after being pummelled by thunder and lightning overnight.

“I like to play in the rain, but for the first time it scares me,” said nine-year-old Ali Hassan, as he helped his mother clear water from outside their house in Manama.

“I was terrified by the sound of thunder and the sky was lit by lightning. I had never seen anything like this, so I hid with my mother… the sound of rain scared me.”

The storms descended on the UAE, Bahrain and areas of Qatar after passing over Oman, where they caused deadly floods and left dozens stranded.

A child’s body was recovered on Tuesday, bringing the death toll to 18 with two people missing, emergency authorities told the official Oman News Agency.

Nine schoolchildren and three adults died when their vehicles were swept away in flash floods, the news agency reported on Sunday.

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