Dubai/Sharjah/Abu Dhabi/Al Ain: At least four people were killed and 12 others injured in road crashes during heavy rains in Dubai and Sharjah. Hundreds of accidents were reported from different parts of the emirates due to bad weather during the weekend.
Two people were killed and 11 sustained injuries in seven traffic accidents that occurred from Saturday morning to Sunday morning in Dubai. Police reported some 60 traffic accidents in just three hours on Sunday from 10am to 1pm.
Three road accidents took place in Sharjah, resulting in the death of two men and moderate to serious injuries to several people. The victims were killed in a head-on-collision between two cars on Al Madam-Dubai Road. Another motorist sustained serious injuries when his vehicle hit a palm tree in Sharjah.
Abu Dhabi police said some 388 minor accidents took place in the city alone during the wet period.
Unsettled weather dumped more rain in the northern emirates and dust in the central and western regions, Sunday, affecting normal life across the country. Forecasters believe the weather will settle down on Monday.
High winds, torrential rain, and hailstorm and dust-storm altogether played havoc since Thursday evening, causing property damaging, uprooting trees and signboards, flooded streets, and disrupting ground, air, and sea traffic. Police, emergency services, and municipality officials were all afoot, working around the clock, to restore normalcy in the affected areas nationwide.
Gusty winds, blowing at a speed of 40 to 60km/h, caused severe damages to a fleet of vessels docking at Khalid Port in Sharjah. Ropes of a huge ship, called Paula-II, which was berthing at the dock No 18 were cut off. It swung along the high tied to the adjacent bay damaging 20 boats and a tug. Nobody was, however, hurt at the port.
According to the port authorities, a damage claim had been registered against the ship.
The sea was stormy with six to eight feet high waves.
The bad weather also forced the diversion of at least 36 international flights from Dubai to other UAE and neighbouring countries’ airports. It also caused several delays in the outbound flights from Saturday evening until Sunday morning. Of the 36 flights, 34 arrived at Dubai airport on Sunday morning, according to a spokesman of the airport.
Abu Dhabi airport received three flights diverted to it from Dubai airport, one each from Sharjah and Muscat airports. Flight operation at Abu Dhabi airport was, however, unaffected, according to Ahmad Al Haddabi, Chief Operating Officer of Abu Dhabi Airports Company.
Heavy traffic jams affected Sharjah as rainwater clogged several parts of the emirate after the heavy downpour. Wind blew away signboards and uprooted trees with debris landing on roads.
Municipality workers had been working to reopen clogged drainage and clean the streets, said Lieutenant Colonel Ahmad Bin Darwish, head of the Patrol Department of Sharjah Police. Similar situations were reported from Ajman, Umm Al Quwain and parts of Ras Al Khaimah.
Bad weather conditions also crippled construction work in some areas of the country. Many site workers were forced indoors by yet another sandstorm on Sunday morning. “Our work was badly affected yesterday… we had to stop all lifting operations as it was too risky,” Engineer Redel Padilla, Health, Safety and Environment Manager at a refinery project in Al Ruwais, told Gulf News.
Dubai Municipal on Sunday deployed dozens of teams across the city to carry out a clean-up operation after Saturday night’s storm that broke trees in half and littered the city with rubbish. The operation is expected to continue for the next few days, said Khalid Sulaiteen, head of the Environmental Emergency Office at Dubai Municipality.
Abdul Majeed Saifaie, director of the Dubai Waste Management Department, pointed out that 2,300 of workers in his department were involved in the clean-up. “This is the worst storm that we have seen in the last 16 months and all our efforts are in cleaning up the beaches, and commercial and residential areas.
The emergency section of Al Ain Municipality launched a 24-hour service to respond to public calls. Saeed Al Kaabi, Director of the Emergency Cell, said some sandstorm and rain dumped sand and rainwater in different low-laying localities in the city. Some 69 calls were received from people asking for help. Officials of the cell responded instantly to pump the water out of the submerged areas, he said.
— With inputs from Janice Ponce de Leon, Aghaddir Ali, Nada Altaher, Staff Reporters,and Basma Jandali Senior Reporter