Ten Omani schoolchildren killed in flood as rain lashes Gulf region

Ten Omani schoolchildren killed in flood as rain lashes Gulf region
Heavy rains cause flooding in the UAE and Oman, leading to road closures and disruptions, with 18 fatalities reported in Oman.
3 min read
At least 18 people had been killed in recent heavy rains in Oman [Getty]

Heavy rain has caused deaths and disruption across the Gulf region, with ten schoolchildren killed in Oman after their vehicle was swept away by a flood on Sunday.

The children, aged between 10 and 15, were travelling on a bus with four other minors when the driver attempted to cross an overflowing wadi in Al-Mudaybi, Sharqiyah, on Sunday, before a strong current dragged the vehicle into an overflowing torrent of water.

Nine of the dead children were recovered on Sunday while a tenth child's body was discovered the following day.

Four children and the driver of the vehicle were rescued by civil defence workers, while eight more people were killed in flooding elsewhere in the Sultanate.

Oman's usually dry wadis become deadly fast-flowing streams during heavy rain each year. Omani authorities frequently advise the public to avoid these valleys during rainy seasons, but people still drown each year.

Saudi Arabia's King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman sent their condolences to Oman's Sultan Haitham bin Tariq Al-Said and the families of the deceased, according to the Saudi Press Agency.

Heavy rains continued to lash the UAE on Tuesday, flooding major highways and leaving vehicles abandoned on roads across Dubai.

The rains began overnight, leaving massive ponds on streets as whipping winds disrupted flights at Dubai International Airport, the world's busiest for international travel and the home of the long-haul carrier Emirates.

Police and emergency personnel drove slowly through the flooded streets, their emergency lights flashing across the darkened morning.

Lightning flashed across the sky, occasionally touching the tip of the Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building.

Schools across the UAE, a federation of seven sheikhdoms, largely shut ahead of the storm, and government employees were largely working remotely if able. Many workers stayed home as well, though some ventured out, with the unfortunate stalling out their vehicles in deeper-than-expected water covering some roads.

Authorities sent tanker trucks into the streets and highways to pump away the water.

Rain is unusual in the UAE, an arid, Arabian Peninsula nation, but occurs periodically during the cooler winter months. Many roads and other areas lack drainage given the lack of regular rainfall, causing flooding.

Initial estimates suggested over 30 millimetres (1 inch) of rain fell over the morning in Dubai, with as much as 128 mm (5 inches) of rain expected throughout the day.

Rain also fell in Bahrain, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia, forcing schools and ministries to close.