Rain lashes at the Emirates Palace area in Abu Dhabi Image Credit: Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Residents have been urged not to leave their homes or workplaces unless there is an emergency, following heavy rains in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.

Aweida Al Marar, chairman of municipal sector regulator in Abu Dhabi, the Department of Municipal Affairs and Transport (DMA), told Gulf News that this is the best safety measure for the present moment.

"We are working with the police, civil defence, transport departments and other entities to clear blocked streets and remove water from near bridges and tunnels. So far, property damage has been reported but no casualties, and we are happy to note this," he added.

The DMA on Wednesday created a dedicated committee to handle emergencies and respond to rescue requests, which can be contacted at 993. Until now, the committee at the Municipality of Abu Dhabi City has received about 332 tips on waterlogging, and about 200 tanks have been deployed to resolve these issues.

Following heavy rain and thunder in the capital, traffic officials called upon motorists to avoid driving except in case of emergencies.

There have been a number of accidents but none have recorded casualties, said Colonel Jamal AL Ameri, chief of public relations at the Abu Dhabi Police Traffic and Patrols Directorate.

"However, waterlogging on streets and hard shoulders pose risks to motorists as do debris and fallen trees in some areas," the official announced to media over public radio.

After calm dawn skies, rain accompanied by thunder and lightning began once again in Abu Dhabi at about 11:30 AM. Wind speeds were reported by the weather bureau, the National Centre for Meteorology and Seismology, to be about 100 kilometres per hour around midday.

The accumulation of water under Taweelah Bridge along the Abu Dhabi-Dubai highway, the Shaikh Maktoum Bin Rashid Street, caused officials to divert traffic to over the bridge. Meanwhile, there was heavy congestion on the road near Al Samha area, and police patrols were working to ease the jam.

Within downtown Abu Dhabi, some traffic lights along Zayed the First Street (also known as Electra Street) and Hamdan Bin Mohammad Street (popularly known as Hamdan Street) appeared to be non-operational due to power outages. Traffic patrols are now stationed at these junctions to direct motorists.

Meanwhile, residents reported damaged vehicles and broken glass near Tourist Club area. Windows were broken along with a collapsed ceiling at Shaikh Khalifa Energy Complex on Corniche Road, which houses many oil and gas sector companies.

Sections along Corniche Road were also closed off as palm trees and street signs had fallen down, blocking access for motorists. Traffic officials could be seen trying to clear the road.

The ceiling at a petrol station store on Fatima Bint Mubarak Street also caved in, while trees fell in the recently refurbished Capital Garden, and along the Al Ain-Abu Dhabi highway.

As of 12:30 PM, the downpour has stopped once more and some sunlight has emerged.