Oman floods: rescue helicopters save stranded drivers

Motorists in flooded wadis and residents of a collapsed house had lucky escapes

Heavy rain and flash floods continue to batter Oman after emergency workers rescued 31 families from their homes in the eastern coastal city of Sur.

Omanis in Sur, which has suffered the worst of the flooding, said the Civil Defence and Ambulance Department started the evacuation on Friday evening. The operation ran until Saturday morning.

“Rainwater came all the way into our front room and kitchen. All our furniture on the ground floor is ruined. The whole street is flooded and we are afraid that the water is going to rise further,” Sultan Al Mukheini, 34, a Sur resident, told The National.

“We called the police, and the rescue teams came a few hours later to get us out.”

Mr Al Mukheini said rescue teams used boats to get people to shelter in hotels away from the flooding.

Witnesses said an old house in Manah, in Oman's Al Dakhaliya region, collapsed on Saturday after being weakened by rainwater.

“Obviously the flooding made its foundation weak and the weight of the rainwater on its roof put pressure on the floors and the whole house crumbled," Said Al Battashi, 43, a civil engineer, told The National. "With the grace of God, the family who lived in it got out in time before it happened.”

Witnesses in other parts of Oman said civil defence teams rescued people from their cars, which became stuck in flooded wadis.

“We have people who were caught driving in the wadis and who were unable to get out because of the strong currents of water," said Muneer Al Asfoor, 26, from the Batnah town of Saham on Oman's northern coast. "The rescue teams used helicopters to get them out alive."

Heavy rains and thunderstorms hit several areas of Oman from Thursday, causing floods, ruining crops and disrupting the electricity supply, Oman Television reported.

The meteorological office is warning that the unpredictable weather will continue for several more days.

Covid-19 measures extended

The torrential rain came at a time when Omanis were enjoying the week-long Eid holiday, which started on Friday.

On Friday evening, the authorities extended the current stay-home period by a day to July 23.

Oman on Thursday ordered a total shutdown during the first three days of Eid, from July 20 to July 22. This was to keep down the number of infections by stopping gatherings.

The country has been operating under an 8pm to 4am stay-home order since June 2. However, from Friday to Monday this was extended by three hours, to start from 5pm.

Updated: July 26th 2021, 1:08 PM
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