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Man dies as northern roads are flooded

Heavy rain struck Ajman, Sharjah, Umm al Qaiwain and Ras al Khaimah overnight, with lighter showers affecting Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

Thunderstorms flooded roads in the Northern Emirates yesterday as temperatures dropped to freezing in mountainous areas. Heavy rain struck Ajman, Sharjah, Umm al Qaiwain and Ras al Khaimah overnight, with lighter showers affecting Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Temperatures fell as low as -1C in the mountains of Ras al Khaimah. One man died and several were injured when a car was swept away in the Wadi Ghalila valley, WAM, the state news agency, said.

Traffic slowed to a standstill in Ajman and Sharjah, with vehicles finding going particularly difficult at the National Paints Roundabout on Emirates Road in Sharjah. Ninety water collection tanks recently installed to cope with winter downpours helped to ease flooding. "We are putting more attention on to notorious water-logging streets like Sharjah International Airport Road, Emirates Road and most of the industrial area roads," said Sultan al Mualla, the director general of Sharjah Municipality.

He said about 70 employees worked with other services, including the police and civil defence, to keep traffic disruption to a minimum. In other areas of Sharjah, taxi drivers used large puddles as washing bays. At the Al Jazeera car park on Al Khan road, more than 10 taxis were given an impromptu wash in a large puddle. One driver said it was to avoid paying fees at the car wash, which his company refused to pay.

"I often wash my taxi once every week, but with the mud it needs a wash every day and the company would give me a Dh500 (US$136) fine in case the car is not clean," he said. Zubair Ahmed, a 35-year-old Sudanese resident of Butina, said: "It's really nice to get this sort of rain for a few days in the UAE. It does cause chaos in traffic when it floods. However, the weather is pleasant." Hail, heavy rain and thundershowers in the early morning left streets flooded in the Nakheel, Khuzam and Julan areas of Ras al Khaimah.

Motorists had to drive slowly in a single lane on main roads. Residents in areas without paved roads suffered the most. Some were unable to drive to their houses because of deep puddles. Several motorists were forced to get out and push their cars through the water, and many vehicles ended up parked near the E311 after water caused their engines to stall. @Email:ykakande@thenational.ae azacharias@thenational.ae

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