Oman weather: Heavy rain causes deaths, damage to infrastructure

Oman Wednesday 09/March/2016 22:46 PM
By: Times News Service
Oman weather: Heavy rain causes deaths, damage to infrastructure

Muscat: Heavy rains, severe thunderstorms and strong winds across the Sultanate are causing damages to properties, public utilities and deaths as the Meteorology Office warns that the unstable weather would continue for the rest of the month.
Live Blog: Heavy rain in many parts of Oman
Strong winds uprooted trees, ripped car parks, flattened compound walls, caused leaks in bridges, cracked up roads, downed street lights and had busted water pipes. So far, records at the local hospitals showed that seven people have died because of the severe storm. The causes of death in these cases were cited as electrocution, lightening, road accidents and drowning.
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Residents also reported that their houses had lost electricity, water supply got disrupted and land line telephone services were cut. Winds of speeds up to 40 knots were recorded by the Met Office. It had felled trees, blocked roads and damaged cars.
“The roof of my car park was ripped and it landed on my window. My car was also damaged when part of the car park’s roof fell on it,” Hamed Al Shaksi, a resident of Maabela told the Times of Oman (TOO).
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Drivers also experienced unnerving moments when they saw bridges on the highway leaking water as they drove underneath. “I noticed the bridge at Ghala leaking water as I was driving through and thought it was going to collapse on me. At that time, cars were driving on top of it. I think the weight of these cars and faults in the infrastructure are causing the leaks,” Salim Al Falahi, a man who works as an architect, said.
Hundreds of distress calls have been received by the ROP in the last one week, including to report about a man who was electrocuted in Mudhaibi and a boy who drowned in a wadi (valley) in Rostaq. In Seeb, a tide of water swept away a labourers’ camp at a construction firm on Tuesday night.
“We lost all our belongings as rainwater flooded our camp while we were sleeping. Everything went into the wadi and now we don’t even have spare clothes,” Hareesh Singh, one of the labourers told TOO.
Road flooding also exposed the portholes in the roads, especially in the residential areas as strong water currents dragged in stones and rubbles. The flooding on the roads had also led to older cars stalling. “It’s a problem when you drive in areas filled with water. The stones break the roads and my car got stuck. The water got into my radiator and it stalled,” Shamis Al Battashi, a resident of Al Hail, said. Due to the uncertainty of the weather, the Ministry of Education cancelled schools on Wednesday and Thursday saying it was risky for children to make their way to their classes. Most of the offices in the Sultanate sent workers home early on Wednesday.
The Met Office, in its regular broadcast, has warned that the unstable weather is likely to continue for the rest of the week and cautioned all residents to restrict their movements. Civil engineers said it was difficult to estimate material damage, but repair costs might run into millions.
“You have ministry buildings that are leaking water, airports that have damaged roofs, shopping centres, roads, public utilities and private properties that need expensive repairs. My estimate would be between OMR50 to 75 million,” Khamis Al Obaidani, a civil engineer, told TOO.