Oman: six killed as torrential rain floods wadis

The gulf region has been hit by severe weather fronts over the new year

A vehicle is trapped by floodwater after the tropical Cyclone Shaheen in Al Khaburah city in Al Batinah on October 4, 2021. AFP
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Flooding in Oman, triggered by heavy rainfall that began on New Year’s Eve, has killed six people and left several towns completely cut off.

Oman TV reported on Saturday that a man was found dead in his vehicle after he tried to cross a wadi in Samail province.

Another victim “was drowned in a wadi in Liwa,” the report said.

The towns of Liwa, Sohar, Samail, Sur and Wahibah were cut off when the country received more than 72 millimetres of rainfall.

For many in Oman, New Year plans were a washout.

“We were planning a party on the beach on New Year’s Eve. We already pitched a large tent right on the sands but rains spoiled everything last night. Not much of a New Year in Muscat this time around,” Khalaf Al Saeedi, 33, a resident of Seeb, told The National.

The New Year coincided with the weekend in Oman and many people had planned to spend the day outdoors.

Shamsa Al Saleh, 23, said she had to cancel an all-girls trip with her friends.

“Roads are closed towards Wahiba Sands in Sharqiyah because of the rains. We were planning to have lunch there today,” she said.

Wadi flood danger

Oman Television showed vehicles floating down streets in the raging torrents of flooded wadis, as owners desperately tried to tow them out.

Salam Al Wahaibi, 27, who was in Sur in the eastern region on Friday, said the heavy rainfall caught people by surprise.

“Many of us have been caught in areas around the wadis. We were trying to camp in one of those places, thinking the rain will not be heavy. I saw at least six cars floating in the water and owners could not do anything but shout,” he said.

The Batinah region, which was devastated by Cyclone Shaheen in October, escaped with no “significant” damage to homes, Oman Television said, although trade and traffic were disrupted.

“I will not be able to open my restaurant for few more days until the water that flooded the road has been cleared,” Ali Al Shamsi, a restaurant owner in the town of Liwa, told The National.

Parents expressed caution, saying that they may not send their children to school on Sunday, the first day of the week.

“I will not drive my two children to school tomorrow in case the rains get worse. I will wait and see until Monday,” Fareed Al Abri, 44, who lives in Muscat, told The National.

The meteorological office said moderate to heavy rains would continue until January 5 and warned the public to avoid wadis and low-lying areas.

Updated: January 01, 2022, 4:05 PM