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World

UAE reels for a third day after record-breaking storm

Published April 18, 2024
A general view of flood water caused by heavy rains, with the Burj Khalifa tower visible in the background, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Photo: Reuters
A general view of flood water caused by heavy rains, with the Burj Khalifa tower visible in the background, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Photo: Reuters

DUBAI: The United Arab Emirates was still grappling on Thursday with the aftermath of a record-breaking storm this week that brought much of the country to a standstill.

In Dubai, operations at the airport, a major travel hub, remain disrupted after Tuesday’s storm flooded the runway, resulting in flight diversions, delays and cancellations.

 People push a bus through flood water caused by heavy rains, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Photo: Reuters
People push a bus through flood water caused by heavy rains, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Photo: Reuters

The airport said on Thursday morning it had resumed receiving inbound flights at Terminal 1, used by foreign carriers, but that flights continue to be delayed and disrupted.

Emirates, the single largest carrier at the airport, said it would resume checking-in passengers in Dubai at 9 a.m. (0500 GMT) on Thursday, delaying the restart from midnight by nine hours.

Dubai reels from floods chaos after record rains

The airport struggled to get food to stranded passengers with nearby roads blocked by flood waters, and because of overcrowding limited access to those who had confirmed bookings.

The storm, which hit neighbouring Oman on Sunday, pounded the UAE on Tuesday, flooding roads and causing hours-long gridlock as rainwater inundated homes.

One person was reported dead in the UAE and 20 in Oman.

Flooding trapped residents in traffic, offices and homes as the UAE recorded its heaviest rains in the 75 years that records have been kept, authorities said.

 A person stands surrounded by flood water caused by heavy rains, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Photo: Reuters
A person stands surrounded by flood water caused by heavy rains, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Photo: Reuters

Authorities have also told government employees and students to stay home while waterlogged roads are cleared.

Climate experts say rising temperatures caused by human-led climate change are leading to more extreme weather events around the world, such as the storm that struck the UAE and Oman.

“It’s likely that the storm was kind of supercharged by climate change because there’s just more moisture available in the air for any storm system to then precipitate out,” said Colleen Colja, a climate scientist at Imperial College London.

Researchers anticipate that climate change will lead to heightened temperatures, increased humidity and a greater risk of flooding in parts of the Gulf region.

The problem can be worsened in countries like the UAE where there is a lack of drainage infrastructure to cope with heavy rains.

 A person sits near vehicles stranded in flood water caused by heavy rains in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Photo: Reuters
A person sits near vehicles stranded in flood water caused by heavy rains in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Photo: Reuters

A UAE government agency that oversees cloud seeding - a process of manipulating clouds to increase rainfall - denied that any such operations took place before the storm.

Dubai International Airport says it is experiencing significant disruption due to bad weather

The UAE state news agency late on Wednesday carried a statement from President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan saying he had ordered authorities to assess the damage and provide support to families impacted by the storm.

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