Indian family of six washed away in Oman floods
Six people are missing in Oman after heavy rain lashed the sultanate this weekend, with rescue teams on Tuesday continuing to search for the family, which includes three children.
Indian pharmacist Sardar Fazal Ahmed was on a day trip with his family in Wadi Bani Khalid on Saturday when flash floods hit the mountainous region in northern Oman.
Ahmed was able to reach safety, but his 28-day-old baby, two toddlers, his wife, and parents were swept away in flood waters.
"The search is on for them, and we hope to find them soon. We already have combed over 60 km in an extensive search operation which continued for three consecutive days," a spokesperson for the Public Authority for Civil Defence told Times of Oman.
"The search is taking as long as it is because of the nature of the wadi and its length. Wadi Bani Khalid is deep and winding, which can lead to violent gushes of water. However, our teams are working as hard as possible and we are confident in our abilities."
Volunteers are aiding the civil rescue team in the search, which includes a 60km stretch of wadi known for its flash floods.
There are still dangers for the rescue team from further flooding - which includes divers and sniffer dog teams - particularly untrained volunteers who are helping in the mission.
"We search through most of the day but the night time is dangerous because of the depth of the wadi and the possibility that the rain might return. Furthermore, the search also stops during the day depending on how heavy the rain is," the spokesperson added.
"We do not say no to anyone who wants to help in the search, but the training is different for the volunteer teams, and so it becomes important to protect them as well."
Ahmed's parents came from India to welcome his newborn boy, when they decided to take a trip to the beauty spot.
His parents Khan and Shabana, Ahmed's wife Arshi, daughter Sidra, aged-four, son Zaid, aged-two, and 28-day-old son Nooh are feared dead.
He drove down to the wadi for a day out, but the weather took a turn for the worse when they reached the valley, with waters soon surrounding the vehicle.
"Initially we had thought it was a sunny day and we left for Wadi. But when we reached there, I noticed people leaving the place in a hurry. Before we could comprehend what was the matter, it started raining heavily," Ahmed told media in Oman.
When he went to rescue his four-year-old daughter who fell out of the vehicle, flood water entered the car washing away his family.
Ahmed was able to survive after clinging on to the branch of a palm tree and reaching safety.
Two teenagers also drowned in a pool in nearby Jalan Bani Bu Ali on the weekend.
Oman has witnessed torrential rain this weekend, with Wadi Bani Khaled witnessing the heaviest downpours.
Oman's Public Authority for Civil Aviation (PACA) recorded rainfall of 334mm over the past 24 hours, according to Times of Oman on Monday.
Some flights from Muscat airport were diverted to the neighbouring UAE due to the weather.
Wadis in mountainous of northern Oman frequently witness flash floods during spells of rain, with civil rescue teams warning people to avoid these areas during erratic weather.