NORTHERN EMIRATES // The sandstorm that blew across the country on Thursday was blamed for causing 82 accidents on Sharjah’s roads, while municipality staff in the emirate closed parks and face masks were handed out to the public to protect them from the dust.
Construction workers were told to down tools to ensure their safety until the storm and high winds had passed, while Sheikha Shatha Al Mualla, director of the Public Health Department at the municipality, urged members of the public to stay indoors and keep all windows and doors closed.
Sharjah RTA staff distributed masks to commuters at Al Jubeil bus station, while police officers handed out masks to members of the public at the industrial area station.
Police said the majority of traffic accidents were minor. However, two Morroccans were taken to Kuwaiti Hospital after being hurt when their car swerved off the road and crashed at around 8.30am in Al Muleiha.
Colonel Mohammed Shwaff, director of Traffic and Patrols Department, urged motorists to drive slowly due to the low visibility and use extreme conditions on the emirate’s roads.
The storm was also felt on the east coast, with hospital staff in Fujairah treating patients suffering from asthma, allergies and respiratory problems, said Dr Omar Musa, head of the emergency department at Al Sharq hospital
“We received several conditions of patients with asthma experiencing shortness of breath and we provided them with the needed medication. We also advised other departments to be ready for treating a number of patients that we expect to have due to the sandstorm,” said Dr Musa.
Visibility was poor on the emirate’s roads as dust and sand was whipped into the air by strong winds. Major Dr Saeed Al Hassani, director of the media and public relations department at Fujairah Police, urged motorists to drive carefully and stay alert.
“No major accidents, but drivers should be extra cautious due to low visibility in most areas,” said Maj Al Hassani. “We urge them to stick to traffic rules and regulations, avoid speeding and keep a safe distance between vehicles.”
No major traffic accidents were reported in Ajman or Umm Al Quwain as a result of the weather, police said.
“There were no serious or minor accidents in the emirate due to low visibility because of dust and sand,” said Lt Col Ali Humaid Al Musaibi, acting director of Patrol and Traffic Department at Ajman Police.
Lt Col Saeed Obaid, director of Traffic and Patrols Department at UAQ Police, said there had only been minor accidents reported and without injuries.
“We hope drivers drive carefully and adhere to limited speeds. Our patrols are available on roads to provide assistance to those who ask for help and we turn on the warning traffic lights to alert motorists to take caution.”
Dr Abdel Karim Helmy, consultant and head of the accident and emergency department at Sheikh Khalifa Hospital in Ajman, said staff received 14 cases of patients suffering with asthma brought on by the weather.
“Only one case among all the cases that have come today will stay in hospital because it was heart attack and asthma. Other cases have received treatment by using a Nebulizer,” he said. “When they came to hospital, patients’ conditions were bad because the dust and sand has an extreme effect on asthma cases.”
Dr Helmy advised asthmatics not to leave their homes until the weather cleared and to wear a medical mask if they needed to venture outside.