Dubai Roads, Airport Struggle Following Record Rainfall


(MENAFN- The Peninsula) AFP

Dubai's giant highways were clogged by flooding and its major airport was in chaos as the Middle East financial
centre remained gridlocked on Wednesday, a day after the heaviest rains on record.

Tailbacks snaked along waterlogged, six-lane expressways after up to 259.5 millimetres (10.2 inches) of rain, the most since records began 75 years ago, fell on the desert United Arab Emirates on Tuesday.

At least one person was killed after a 70-year-old man was swept away in his car in Ras Al-Khaimah, one of the oil-rich country's seven emirates, Police
said.

One road tunnel near the airport was completely flooded to a depth of several metres (yards).

Schools will remain closed in Dubai until next week, authorities said, underscoring the difficulty of the clean-up.

Passengers were warned not to come to Dubai airport, the world's busiest by international traffic, "unless absolutely necessary", an official said.

"Flights continue to be delayed and diverted," a Dubai Airports spokesperson said, calling working conditions "very challenging".

Dubai's flagship Emirates airline cancelled all check-ins as staff and passengers struggled to arrive and leave, with access roads flooded and some metro services suspended.

At the airport, long taxi queues formed and passengers milled around, many growing increasingly frustrated as nearly every departure was repeatedly delayed.

The storms hit the UAE and Bahrain overnight Monday and on Tuesday, after lashing Oman, where 18 people were killed including children.

Climatologist Friederike Otto, a specialist in assessing the role of climate change on extreme weather events, told AFP it was "highly likely" that global warming had worsened the storms.

Maryam Al Shehhi, senior weather forecaster at the Gulf state's National Center of Meteorology, denied a report that the UAE had carried out cloud seeding -- spraying chemicals to increase rainfall.

"We did not use cloud seeding because (the storm) was already strong," Shehhi told AFP.

"The desert needs more time than other land for water to seep in. The amount of rain that has fallen is too much for the land to absorb," she added.

Official media said it was the highest rainfall since records began in 1949, before the formation of the UAE in 1971.

Schools will also remain closed until next week in Bahrain, which saw record one-day rainfall of 96.88mm on Tuesday, beating the 67.9mm witnessed in 1995.

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The Peninsula

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