UAE reports illness linked to contaminated water after floods

UAE reports illness linked to contaminated water after floods
UAE's health ministry has reported patients with symptoms linked to the contaminated water after heavy rains and floods.
3 min read
The UAE was hit by record rains on April 16 that brought parts of the Gulf country to a standstill [GETTY]

A small number of people in the United Arab Emirates have shown symptoms associated with contaminated water after heavy rains and floods, the health ministry said.

The statement, carried by the state news agency late on Wednesday, did not say exactly how many people had been affected or what exactly they were treated for.

There have been "a very limited number of cases that showed some symptoms of being affected by the mixed water" and they received hospital treatment, the ministry said.

It did not say what the water had been contaminated with.

The UAE was hit by record rains on 16 April that brought parts of the Gulf country to a standstill, heavily flooding some neighbourhoods, including in Dubai and northern cities.

Four people died in the floods.

The nation announced $544 million to repair the homes of Emirati families on Wednesday after last week's record rains caused widespread flooding and brought the oil-rich Gulf state to a standstill.

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The rainfall, the UAE's heaviest since records began 75 years ago, killed at least four people, including three Filipino workers and one Emirati. UAE authorities have not released an official toll.

"We learned great lessons in dealing with severe rains," said Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum after a cabinet meeting, adding that ministers approved "two billion dirhams to deal with damage to the homes of citizens".

Wednesday's announcement comes more than a week after the unprecedented deluge lashed the desert country, where it turned streets into rivers and hobbled Dubai airport, the world's busiest for international passengers.

"A ministerial committee was assigned to follow up on this file... and disburse compensation in cooperation with the rest of the federal and local authorities," said Sheikh Mohammed, who is also the ruler of Dubai, which was one of the worst hit of the UAE's seven sheikhdoms.

Cabinet ministers also formed a second committee to log infrastructure damage and propose solutions, Sheikh Mohammed said in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

"The situation was unprecedented in its severity, but we are a country that learns from every experience," he said.

The storm, which dumped up to two years' worth of rain on the UAE, a federal monarchy with a 90 percent expatriate population, had subsided by last Wednesday.

But the glam-hub of Dubai, touted as a picture-perfect city, faced severe disruption for days later, with water-clogged roads and flooded homes.

Dubai airport cancelled 2,155 flights, diverted 115 and did not return to full capacity until Tuesday.

"We must acknowledge... that there has been an unreasonable and unacceptable deficiency and collapse in services and crisis management," prominent Emirati analyst Abdulkhaleq Abdulla said Wednesday on X.

"We hope that this will not be repeated in the future," he added, in a rare public rebuke.

Climatologist Friederike Otto, a specialist in assessing the role of global warming on extreme weather events, told AFP it was "high likely" that the rainfall "was made heavier by human-caused climate change".