Dubai: As many as 63 cars were involved in two different pile-ups in the Al Rahamaniya area of Sharjah as dense fog took motorists unawares.
Dubai also witnessed at least 71 traffic accidents on Monday morning, while around a dozen flights were diverted, cancelled or rescheduled.
The twin pile-ups took place at the interchange seven on the Bypass Road heading towards Dubai. The first one involving 30 cars took place at around 7:10 am, while the second involving 33 cars took place a little later.
Five people were reportedly injured in the second pile-up and were rushed to the nearest hospital. However, no casualties were reported in the accidents in Dubai.
Brigadier Abdullah Mubarak Al Dukhan, deputy commander of Sharjah Police, advised motorist to abide by traffic rules. Motorists’ failure to keep safe distance from the vehicles ahead of them also contributed to the accidents apart from the low visibility, he said.
Foggy conditions returned to trouble motorists after a few days, with visibility reduced to virtually zero in many areas, making life difficult for drivers, pilots and air traffic controllers.
Widespread disruption of road and air traffic was reported, with blinding conditions forcing motorists to pull up on highways, while flights were diverted to airports with better visibility even as several departures were either rescheduled or cancelled.
Emirates rescheduled a few flights from Dubai, while one Emirates flight heading to Dubai was diverted to Fujairah, according to an official statement, while flights EK851 to Doha and EK606 to Karachi were cancelled. Affected passengers were scheduled to leave on the next available flights.
Interestingly, two flights bound for other airports were diverted to Dubai International Airport and Dubai World Central, according to a Dubai Airports official.
Fly Dubai flights were also reportedly disrupted, though no details were available.
In the capital, as many nine Abu Dhabi-bound flights were diverted, eight to Al Ain International Airport and one flight to Dubai, according to an official statement.
Sharjah-based Air Arabia, too, was forced to reschedule some of its flights, according to Air Arabia’s spokesperson, Hussam Raydan.
According to the National Centre of Meteorology and Seismology (NCMS), visibility was reduced to 50 metres at Al Dhaffra and 100 metres at Abu Dhabi, Jebel Ali, and Ras Al Khaimah airports at around 8:30am. At Sharjah and Dubai airports, visibility was 250 metres and 400 metres respectively.
On the ground, traffic police were kept busy advising motorists to exercise caution, maintain safe distance from the vehicles ahead, and on the use of fog lamps. Visibility was almost zero at several points on Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Road, Dubai Bypass Road, and Dubai-Al Ain Road.
“Nothing was visible beyond a car length ahead and I was worried,” said Amjad Ali, a resident of Ajman who took Mohammad Bin Zayed Road at 7am.
Colonel Ahmad Suhail, deputy director of the Monitoring and Control Centre at Dubai Police Operation Room informed that the operation room received 806 phone calls in the morning for fog-related enquiries and reports.
As foggy weather is expected to prevail over the next couple of days, Colonel Suhail urged motorists to drive carefully and be wary of sudden changes in weather conditions.
Colonel Suhail urged motorists to check on the weather each day from different media outlets and leave their homes earlier so as not to rush.
The NCMS also issued a flurry of warnings through twitter advising people to be vigilant and careful while passing through areas experiencing foggy conditions. It said thick fog had enveloped all the major cities on the western coastline between Ras Al Khaimah and Ruwais in the Western Region of Abu Dhabi emirate. Fog also blanketed some inland areas, but conditions were clear and pleasant in Al Ain.
Meanwhile, daytime temperatures are expected to go up a couple of degrees on Tuesday, touching the 32-degree mark on the Celsius scale in most parts of the country. It is almost a 10-degree rise in the daytime lowest temperature of 22c recorded on January 17. Night-time temperatures have also increased in the range of 12-17 degrees celsius.
— With inputs from Sarah Algethami, trainee at Gulf News