Dubai roads, airport reel from floods after record rains

DUBAI  -  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. Power outages were reported around Dubai, which was dotted with flooded areas and submerged and abandoned cars. One road tunnel near the airport was completely flooded to a depth of several metres (yards).

As sunny skies returned on Wednesday, a day af­ter torrential downpours and rolling black clouds, stories emerged of residents stuck in cars and offices overnight. “It was one of the most hor­rific situations I had ever experienced, because I knew that if my car broke down, it would sink and I would drown with it,” said one worker in his 30s, who did not want to give his name, after his 15-minute commute had turned into a 12-hour saga on flooded roads. “I was very afraid,” he add­ed. Schools will remain closed in Dubai until next week, authorities said, underscoring the difficulty of the clean-up. One householder, also requesting anonymity, said he made a small detour on his way home on Tuesday to buy McDonald’s for his chil­dren, only to get stuck in traffic and finally arrive -- empty-handed -- six hours later. “I can understand that the country can’t deal with rain on this scale, but the lack of transparency and real-time infor­mation is disappointing,” he said.

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.

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