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A tanker pumping water from the towers in Ajman. Image Credit: Atiq Ur Rehman/Gulf News

Ajman: Several residents of a cluster of towers in Ajman suffered bouts of vomiting and diarrhoea after using the tap water in their apartments over the weekend even as officials from the Ministry of Health and the Environment Department of Ajman Municipality visited the building on Saturday to take samples of the water for investigation.

Many residents contacted Gulf News on Saturday said they sought treatment at various hospitals and clinics in Ajman and Sharjah after using the tap water in their bathrooms and kitchen. They alleged that the water smelt like sewage and had changed colour.

Most of those who fell sick were children, residents said.

According to a notice purportedly put up by the facilities management, residents were told “please don’t use the water” because of “an emergency”.

When Gulf News visited the towers on Saturday, tankers could be seen near the buildings. One worker claimed they were pumping out water from the building’s water tank.

Homeowners estimated that roughly 40 to 50 families from the cluster of towers, comprising over 1,000 apartments, had sought treatment by Saturday. However, an official confirmation of the figure was not yet available.

‘Foul odour’

Dr Mohammad Asif, a Pakistani doctor who lives in the cluster, said his two sons — aged eight and 13 — were receiving treatment at a government hospital in Ajman on Saturday.

“We use the tap water in our apartment for drinking and washing. We’ve been living here since four years and have never had any problems before. But now, a foul odour started coming from the water. My sons started vomiting and had a high temperature. I took them to hospital,” Dr Asif, 47, said.

“Even our maid fell ill. I’ve taken my family to a hotel in Sharjah because we can’t stay here until the issue is fixed. Scores of other people suffered also,” he added.

Kamran Sarwar, another resident from Pakistan, said he took his four-year-old son to a private hospital in Ajman because “he suffered severe vomiting”.

‘Yellowish colour’

Sarwar, 42, said: “Since Thursday, some families in the cluster started noticing a bad smell from the water and it turned yellowish. When I took my son to hospital, I met other people from the building with the same symptoms. The water supply was then closed on Friday and we’re using bottled drinking water since then for everything.”

Riaz, an Indian resident of the cluster, said his six-year-old grandson was admitted to a private hospital in Sharjah after vomiting. “There were three other children admitted in the same hospital but my grandson was the most serious case. He was given treatment and placed under observation,” Riaz added.

Yousuf, another resident, said the tap water had turned yellow and “only added to the dirt of the dishes and the laundry. My two children were admitted to hospital as they suffered from vomiting and diarrhoea”.

Indian expat Biju Rajiv, who also lives in the cluster, said residents in a WhatsApp group for homeowners reported that several people had notified “the building security and maintenance but I don’t know what the issue is, they didn’t tell me”.

Supply halted

Rajiv, 36, said his wife, son, 4, father, 64, and mother, 62, have been taken ill. “When I went to [a private hospital in Ajman], they told me I’m the 29th case with the same symptoms from the towers,” he said, adding, “We’ve moved temporarily to my father-in-law’s residence in Sharjah because there’s no water in our apartment.”

Another Indian resident, Sankaran K., said he suffered from vomiting on Friday but didn’t see a doctor as he recovered soon. “But after hearing of so many other cases, I’m now thinking about a getting a check-up,” the 65-year-old said.

A Pakistani mother, who only gave her name as “Mrs Khan”, said her three-year-old daughter started vomiting on Friday afternoon.

“Since Thursday afternoon I noticed a smell from the water. I told my daughter not to use the water but it was too late — she felt sick and threw up many times. I took her to a hospital in Ajman where they told me there were so many cases like her. She was given an injection and fever-reducing medicine. We’re using mineral water at home as the building’s water supply has been halted,” she said.

Probe under way

A committee from the Ministry of Health as well as a committee from Environment Department of Ajman Municipality visited the building on Saturday and spoke to the tenants. They said samples of the water were taken and will be sent to the laboratory to find out the cause of the problem.

“The incident is still under investigation,” an official said.

It was not immediately clear what caused the issue; staff from the facilities management company could not be reached for comment despite several attempts on Saturday.