DUBAI // Hundreds of people stranded for hours at Ibn Battuta Mall after a burst main left their cars submerged in water may be compensated for damage by the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority.
Dozens of vehicles were partly under water on Thursday night after the flooding near Jebel Ali Gardens. Water had seeped into many of them and their owners had to wait hours for other transport.
Water also flooded into a power generator near the mall causing an explosion and fire, a police spokesman said.
"It was not serious and the fire was brought under control relatively quickly," he said. "No one was hurt in the incident."
Almost 24 hours after the incident, cars were still water-bound and owners were told they would have to have them removed.
Police cordoned off sections of road around the shopping centre and Jebel Ali Gardens as crews from Dewa worked throughout the night to fix the damage and drain the water.
A Dewa spokesman said owners could be eligible for compensation from the authority.
"The pipe that broke was about 200 millimetres, so it was quite big, and the water was under a lot of pressure, which meant a lot of it leaked out," the Dewa official said. He said Dewa had received a lot of calls from people whose cars were stranded.
"At the moment we are still in the process of repairing the damage so cannot help with getting the cars moved," he said.
"We are advising people to get their cars picked up by themselves and get a report from a garage about the type of damage caused by the flooding.
"They should then send that report to us and we will then forward that information to our management and they will see if there may be see kind of compensation."
He said the pipe had burst at about 10pm.
Nakheel, the developer of Jebel Ali Gardens and Ibn Battuta Mall, said its staff had also been working to solve the problem.
"We have had crews and teams from Nakheel working through the night with Dewa and the authorities to put the problem right," the developer said. "We apologise to anyone affected by this and we are doing everything to cooperate with the authorities.
"We can confirm that the toilets in the mall had to be closed from around midday because of a lack of water caused by the burst water main. As of 6pm some of the water supplies have now been restored."
Much of the water had receded by noon yesterday but recovering cars was proving to be a problem.
"I had just come out of the mall at about 11.30pm and the whole car park was flooded," said Inam Abidi, an Indian who had been in the mall. "I tried to get to my car but the water was knee deep and for some reason very hot."
He said water had seeped into his car and he feared it had also got into the engine.
"The car started once but then it didn't work," Mr Abidi said. "I managed to salvage a few things from inside the car but most of it is ruined."
A video of the flooding posted on the internet shows fast-moving water covering cars up to their windscreens. The worst-affected area was outside the China section of the mall behind the cinema.
The exit road to the cinema car park was still flooded and greenish-brown water had collected into huge pools under electricity pylons near the mall.
"It was very bad last night and lots of people were stuck here without transport," said Mr Abidi. "I could see a lot of cars getting stuck in the middle of the road and the taxis refused to come near the area.
"Eventually a group of us managed to get a private hire taxi van and he dropped us off at our homes."
On Thursday night, Mr Abidi was told by police to return in the morning for his car.
"I've tried again this morning and although the water is much less, the car is still stuck. The police are now telling me to return at 10pm tonight and they might be able to move the car."
Workers at the mall said many people were left stranded for hours.
"The water didn't get into the mall but we had lots of water in the car parks," said one. "We had lots of people waiting for taxis but because of the water they weren't able to get through."
A police car blocked exit 27 into Discovery Gardens off Sheikh Zayed Road, forcing people wanting to go to the mall into long traffic queues at exit 25. The road between the metro station and the mall was also cordoned off.
Cars could be seen half submerged at a roundabout near the China section of the mall's car park.
Khawla Al Mehairi, vice president for marketing and corporate communications for Dewa said: "There was a breakage last night in one of the lines. "However, we responded fast and the matter was under control.
"The main cause is still unknown and the matter is under investigation.
However, the water services supply is not impacted because our system is very reliable and the area won't suffer from any water shortage."