Police close beaches in Dubai after three drown

Lifeguard patrols stationed along the coast amid 9ft-high waves and strong winds, after series of rescue operations in wake of deaths

Dubai ,United Arab Emirates- March , 05, 2011: General view of JBR beach in Dubai Marina. ( Satish Kumar/ The National )
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DUBAI // One day after three men drowned in rough seas off Dubai, the emirate's police were yesterday forced to close beaches.

Red flags and No Swimming signs were pitched across Dubai Open Beach and lifeguards were stationed to stop people from entering the water.

Dubai Police rescue vehicles were also stationed at all beaches, officials said.

"We are monitoring the sea conditions and for the time being we are pulling any swimmers out," said a rescue official at Jumeirah Open Beach.

On Friday, two men drowned opposite the Jumeirah Beach Residence at Dubai Marina and a third died at Jumeirah Beach near Burj al Arab. The identities of the victims were not released by police but one has been reported to be a British tourist in his 50s.

Jonny Singh, a Dubai resident, pulled the man from the sea near the Hilton Dubai Jumeirah Resort at about 1.45pm on Friday.

"I was out about 30 metres in the water and the conditions were rough. The waves were very consistent and high," he said.

"At about 40 metres offshore, I spotted a body floating. The waves hit me and I went under and when I recovered I saw the body again floating.

"I swam out to check on the man and he was lifeless. His face was pale and he was not moving.

"After towing him to shore, a couple of people helped me bring him in and a rescue officer immediately tried to resuscitate."

Efforts to revive the man continued for 10 minutes before an ambulance arrived, he said.

Within less than two hours, a second body was pulled from the sea, described as a European man in his mid-40s.

The victim was seen floating in the sea and was pulled out by two swimmers. Paramedics attempted in vain to resuscitate the man.

Two rescue patrols were present at the unmanned Jumeirah Beach Residence yesterday.

Despite red flags and warning signs put up in the manned beaches, no flags were visible at Jumeirah Beach Residence except at the two hotels that flank the spot.

Patrol officers said they were stationed at the beach from 7am yesterday and were keeping everyone out of the water.

"The waves are very high today and the problem lays with the undercurrents that pull the swimmers," said a senior rescue official.

"On Friday we had to rescue a surfer who crashed into the rocks in addition to the drownings and near-drownings," he said.

An officer at Dubai Ports Police Station, which has jurisdiction over Dubai beaches, said that all patrols were instructed to keep swimmers out of the water and remain alert until weather conditions change.

The Dubai International Airport meteorological office yesterday warned of the weather conditions over the next few days.

"Due to current temperature changes and cloud developments, Dubai can experience a wide range of weather conditions during this month," the office said in a statement.

"Daily weather updates stated that waves are expected to be between six to nine-feet high at night, with no significant changes in the next few days."

The National Center for Meteorology and Seismology said that over the next 48 hours winds will be light to moderate and sea conditions will be slight to moderate, with wave heights at two to four feet offshore around the UAE.

* With additional reporting by Ola Salem