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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 September 2018

UAE family trapped in flood-hit Kerala back home after rescue mission

RAK family flown home from India after UAE intervention

Some 800,000 people have been displaced and over 350 have died in Kerala, in the worst flooding in a century. AP
Some 800,000 people have been displaced and over 350 have died in Kerala, in the worst flooding in a century. AP

An Emirati family "trapped" by the devastating floods in Kerala have finally returned home after a rescue mission was launched by UAE officials.

The family, a mother and her son and two daughters from Ras Al Khaimah, had been in the city of Kochi for a week when they were caught up in the ongoing crisis.

They were all due to fly back to the UAE on August 15, only to find that Cochin International Airport was closed due to the heavy floods that have claimed more than 350 lives.

They were left stranded in the city without electricity, running water or even a functioning network to contact worried family members back in the UAE.

Abdullah Al Mazyoud, who was at the family home in Ras Al Khaimah, said he was "losing his mind" as his siblings and mother were left stranded in the flood-stricken city.

The family had to leave two hotels which were damaged by the floods.

“They were trapped by the floods,” said Al Mazyoud.

He alerted a member from the Federal National Council, Salem Al Shehhi, who represents Ras Al Khaimah, for help.

“His incredible efforts saved my family,” he said.

Mr Al Shehhi contacted the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and its diplomatic missions in India to help the stranded Emiratis.

However, the roads were over-flooded and no means of transportation - whether by land or air, could reach the affected areas.

“For five days I was losing my mind; it was my mother, brother and sisters out there.”

Finally, on Saturday the roads opened up only for six-wheeled lorries to drive through.

“An Indian national over there, whom we did not even know before, arranged for my family, along with others who were trapped, to ride a lorry from the hotel to the train station," he said.

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The family had to take a 12-hour train ride from Cochin to Thiruvananthapuram, where the UAE Consulate of Kerala is located.

Once they reached their destination, they were received by members of the UAE consulate who provided them with accommodation and fixed their return flight.

They made it back to the UAE safely on Sunday.

According to Mr Al Shehhi, there were about 200 Emiratis in Kerala when it was hit by the floods.

“I received calls from many families, and I contacted the embassy and consulate on their behalf.”

He said the embassy and consulate personnel have been working non-stop to move the stranded Emiratis to safe areas.

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