x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Storms leave one dead and 46 hurt in Al Ain

One dead and dozens injured when strong winds blow down traditional souq.

Heavy showers also lashed Fujairah, leaving many roads waterlogged.
Heavy showers also lashed Fujairah, leaving many roads waterlogged.

AL AIN // One person died and dozens were injured when strong winds blew down a traditional souq.

A total of 46 people were rushed to hospital at about 9pm on Sunday night - half to Tawam and the rest to Al Ain Hospital.

The patient who died was treated at Al Ain Hospital, according to an emergency room nurse. No details about his or her identity were available.

One patient was admitted to Tawam with head injuries, while most of the other injured suffered broken bones.

"Thank God most were minor; we admitted only one person to monitor him," said Dr Joseph Manna, deputy head of the emergency department at Tawam Hospital.

He said the injured were of "all nationalities" and included shoppers and shopkeepers.

According to an official from the National Centre for Metrology and Seismology, strong winds gusting at up to 130 kph hit Al Ain at around 8.51pm.

"The thunderstorm was one of the main causes for the heavy wind in the area," the official said.

"Lightning had even struck our visual landing system in Al Ain. Wind was very strong and lasted all night."

The souq opened in late February and was due to close this weekend.

"I went to the souq in the morning, because it closes in the afternoon. It was already very windy and you could see the tent was clearly unsafe. I left straight away," said Hanna Abdulla, a 23-year-old Al Ain resident.

Al Ain Municipality said yesterday that its emergency department had struggled to deal with a backlog of calls since the storm, which brought down dozens of trees across the city. The only injuries, though, were from the collapse of the souq.

As of yesterday afternoon, the municipality had received 71 calls from residents complaining of blocked roads, fallen trees and flooding. It admitted it had only been able to deal with 90 per cent of calls so far.

"We are working hard to help everyone," said Saeed al Kaabi, manager of the emergency department at the municipality. "We have had all kinds of calls until now and we are working hard on clearing roads as soon as possible."

Two palm trees fell on major roads in the Al Khabisi and Al Jimi areas.

Residential areas were also affected, with cars unable to move due to trees blocking their path and there were also reports of trees falling on some houses.

Downtown Al Ain saw the most flooding. "We have opened all drains in Al Ain," Mr al Kaabi said.

The Dubai-Al Ain road was also badly affected by winds as many plastic construction cones flew on to the road.

"We have increased the number of staff to deal with these emergencies," Mr al Kaabi added. "People need to take care when driving on the roads. Stop where you are if there are strong winds or if vision is unclear."

Residents were urged to call a freephone line on 993 if aware of any road or residential emergencies.

The rain is expected to continue across various parts of the country today and tomorrow.