Oil spill on UAE east coast forces divers and swimmers out of water

A group of 15 divers also had to cancel their third dive for the day at Aqah beach in Fujairah

Oil washes ashore at the Miramar hotel from an oil spill out at sea in Al Aqah, Fujairah. Juman Jarallah / The National

An oil spill that reached the shores of Aqah in Fujairah on Friday drove hundreds of swimmers out of the water when it turned black.

A group of 15 divers also had to cancel their third dive for the day, as the oil could have damaged the boat engine and equipment.

“It is horrible and very visible," said Michela Colella, manager of Divers Down UAE. "It looks like the water is totally black. There is nobody swimming, and we are cancelling the afternoon dive.”

As members of the group were returning from the first dive, they started to notice the oil spill at around 11am. “It was five minutes far by boat from Miramar hotel, where we are based,” she explained.

“Then they went for the second dive, and we started to notice the beach becoming all black at around 1pm. People started to run away from the water. So when the divers came back we had to cancel the rest of the day.”

The hotel was fully booked by guests and hundreds of swimmers had to leave the water, she added.

This incident repeats a couple of times every year, and they usually have to wait between two to three days for the oil to settle to the bottom.

“I am more than happy to volunteer to clean it, but at the moment the oil is mixed with the water and there is not much that we can do.”

Last year the municipality cleaned the deposits on the beach, she said, “but we have to wait for the oil to be deposited on the beach, so all we can do now is wait”.