Video Credit:

Kalba: Three Indian expatriates are being hailed as heroes for their courageous rescue of a 62-year-old Emirati man from the grips of a flash flood after the record rainfall in the UAE on April 16.

Speaking to Gulf News over the phone on Thursday, the Emirati citizen Jasem Obaid Humaid Hilal Al Zaabi expressed his gratitude to the men who heroically rescued him from getting washed away in his pickup.

He had welcomed them into his home for a cup of tea, cherishing the opportunity to share some precious moments with his rescuers.

“These guys helped me too much and I am here today because of them,” said Al Zaabi who lives in Sharjah’s Kalba area.

He said he was proud of their courage and compassion. “I have a big family, many children. They are also like my sons now.”

How he was rescued

The men who rescued him hail from the South Indian state of Kerala and are roommates in Kalba Industrial Area.

They are Mohammed Nisar, who runs a garage, Umarul Farooq, a plumber and Kavumpurathu Noorudhin, an admin assistant at India Social Club, Kalba. They were accompanied by their other roommates Baburaj,a tailor and Joby Pallan, an electrician during the rescue mission.

The men said the rescue mission took place late on the night of the heaviest rainfalls in the history of the UAE on April 16.

“We had decided to leave our villa after dinner as water had started getting inside by 9.30pm,” Nisar said, recalling the sequence of events.

The roommates packed up their most valuable belongings and decided to seek shelter in the building of the India Social Club where Noorudhin works.

As they were wading through the flooded streets they saw the pickup driven by Al Zaabi. “We saw that his pickup had got trapped in the current of the flash flood,” said Nisar.

Read More

Drifting vehicle

They realised that Al Zaabi had lost control over the vehicle and it was drifting away. The men immediately sensed the danger and wasted no time in springing to his rescue.

“There was a huge ditch on that side of the road and I sensed that his pickup could get drowned in that,” he added.

Nisar then did not think twice. He handed over his belongings to his friends and rushed towards the pickup.

“All I could think of doing at that time was to stop the pickup from drifting away by holding it tight. My friends, Farooq and Noorudhin also rushed to the rescue by then.”

The water level had gone above waist level by then, he said. Initially, they tried to open the door and get Al Zaabi out, but failed. “He was behind the wheel in chest-deep water.”

They then decided to push the pickup and manoeuvre the vehicle to safer ground where water level was a little less.

“Somehow we managed to push it aside and as Noorudhin and I kept holding the vehicle from getting washed away, Farooq somehow pushed down the partially open window and managed to pull him out.”

NAT KALBA 122-1714054167667
Emirati citizen Jasem Obaid Humaid Hilal Al Zaabi with Indian expats (from left) Joby Pallan, Baburaj, Kavumpurathu Noorudhin, Umarul Farooq and Mohammed Nisar at his house in Kalba. Image Credit: Supplied

Escorting him home

A relieved Al Zaabi then hugged the Indian brothers and thanked them.

They held his hand while helping him walk through the flooded streets and escorted him to his house in Al Tarif. In between, the men said, they had gone back twice to his pickup to collect his mobile phone first and his house key later.

“He kept thanking us and offered us money once we reached his place. But, we told him that we were happy with just saving his life.”

They said it took a few hours for them to reach the social club by around 2.30am. “We were shivering by the time we reached the club.”

Happy reunion

The men said they had thought the Emirati man had forgotten them later. But, on Thursday, they got a call from him, asking them to visit him.

“We had to go to work, but still we decided to go and meet him. He gave us a warm welcome. He was holding our hands and thanking us again. He said he felt like seeing us as we are like his children now. He was in tears. He showed us his house, offered tea and nuts. He also showed us the damages to the pickup which he had recovered a couple of days later.”

They said they have been touched by his gesture.