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All UAE students in US safe — Foreign Ministry

UAE resident on one of first flights to New York from region

Gulf News

Abu Dhabi/Dubai: UAE students in New Jersey and New York were rescued from bad weather conditions and moved to hotels by the UAE embassy staff in the US in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, a senior official at the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Abu Dhabi told Gulf News yesterday.

Around 20 UAE students were rescued to safety from Sandy affected areas and all of them are safe, said the official who did not want to be named.

“No injuries, missing cases or any sort of serious problems have been reported so far.”

Meanwhile about 20 UAE students in New York state were moved to safe places as a precautionary measure, the official added.

The official said these rescue missions were carried out by UAE embassy staff as per the instructions given by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

An Emirati Fulbright scholar commended the UAE embassy in the United States’ efforts in helping out Emiratis in New York.

Butheina Kazem, a Fulbright Scholar at New York University, has Tweeted her experience of Hurricane Sandy in New York.

She tweeted: “By 7pm, all UAE students in NYC living in areas affected by the power outage were picked up by [the UAE Embassy in the US] personnel and put up in a hotel.”

She had tweeted that within 10 minutes of contacting the UAE embassy in the US, a car was sent to pick her up from midtown Manhattan, where she had walked, and took her to a hotel.

Earlier, Butheina tweeted that they had lost electricity in Gramercy park

She tweeted “Shout out to UAE Mission to [United Nations] in NYC and [UAE Embassy in the US] for having our backs. Prompt Sandy response time and setup for UAE students remarkable.”

Meanwhile, UAE resident Haider Khan, 41, a senior manager at Etisalat and a keen runner, who Gulf News reported faced travel disruption yesterday, managed to catch a flight to New York early on Wednesday morning.

Khan told Gulf News at 5.41am Wednesday that he was waiting to board a Qatar Airways flight to Doha, where he will take a connecting flight to New York.

Later at 8.04am he said he was about to board a flight from Doha to JFK airport. He added that “it is possibly the first of international flights from the region to be landing in New York.”

Emirates Airlines had cancelled their US bound flights for Wednesday and while Etihad issued the following statement on their website. “A resumption of our daily return service to and from New York on Wednesday, October 31, is expected, pending airport infrastructure repairs and the re-opening of JFK airport.”

Khan wanted to go to New York, to participate in the New York Marathon on Sunday. He was supposed to fly on Tuesday morning but his flight was cancelled when Sandy hit the US.

Sultan Belshalat, an Emirati studying at Boston University, spoke of his experiences of the storm.

He had received a message ahead of the storm from the university’s emergency alert system advising them to have food that wouldn’t require cooking, have flashlights in case the power goes out and to stay indoors.

“I went to a supermarket, which was extremely crowded, and almost all of the shelves that had water on them were empty.” he said

He said that he stayed indoors, away from the windows. He said that the trees and stop signs were shaking.

“At 2pm on Monday, the public transportation announced that all of its services were cancelled for the rest of the day.” Belshalat said.

“When I exited my dorm room, I saw a couple of leaks from the ceiling and buckets put under. Later that day at 3pm the storm was at its peak.”

He said that his friends, who were living in an apartment on the 17th floor said that the windows were shaking and that the wind was really strong — around 70 kilometres per hour.