Waterfalls created by heavy rainfall in Jebel Akhdar, part of the Hajar mountain range COURTESY OMAN NEWS AGENCY

Muscat: Two expatriates were killed in lightning strikes on Monday as thundershowers lashed vast areas of the Sultanate in a continuing wet weather spell that is entering a record-breaking second week.

One of the deaths occurred in the oilfield region of Fahud near Ibri in Dhahirah governorate, while the other was reported at Saham along the Batinah coast. A third person, also an expatriate, is believed to have suffered serious burns in a similar lightning strike in the same area.

The fatalities mark a day of torrential downpours that had the emergency and disaster relief apparatus of the Sultanate operating at full-stretch. The Public Authority for Civil Defence and Ambulances (PACDA) handled a total of 120 emergencies over the course of Monday and, for the first time, had to tackle a spate of fires linked to electrical short circuits. Since the onset of the current rainy spell on April 23, a total of 320 people have been rescued, mainly from flooded wadis or inundated homes, the Authority said in a statement to Oman News Agency (ONA).

Dozens of people were evacuated to safety on Monday as flooding threatened homes in Samayil, Bahla, Ibri and Saham, among a host of other places. The capital city, Muscat, bore some of the brunt of Monday’s intense downpour which, accompanied by gusting winds, brought traffic to a complete halt along key carriageways. Streets turned into rivers as motorists braved driving rain to get to their destination after work. Much of the city was buffeted by winds with speeds ranging from 25 to 40 knots when the skies opened up late in the evening, the Met Office said.

More rain has been forecast across northern areas of the country over the next days as residents endure what experts have described as one of the longest spells of wet weather ever to hit Oman, outside of a tropical storm, in modern times.