‘The desert is covered in rivers’: Severe flooding in Oman causes evacuations and widespread damage

In some areas, more than two years’ worth of rain fell over two days

Harry Cockburn
Environment Correspondent
Wednesday 21 July 2021 17:25
<p>Intense flooding has filled houses with water, cut off roads and seen hundreds evacuated</p>

Intense flooding has filled houses with water, cut off roads and seen hundreds evacuated

Flash floods following heavy rain in Oman have caused widespread damage, leaving at least one person dead and three missing.

Cars have been submerged, homes flooded, roads closed and buildings have collapsed amid the “wild torrents” which followed heavy rainfall.

Several parts of the country have been affected by the extreme weather, which began on Friday, affecting the capital, Muscat.

The weather service, Oman Met, said a “supercell”, which subsequently impacted South Al Sharqiyah, risked leading to an overflow of wadis – the dry valley bottoms, which become rivers during flash-flood conditions.

Photographs showed people being rescued by boat and helicopter from flood waters, while footage showed the walls of a house collapsing during heavy rain and thunder.

Flood waters entered Muscat’s Muttrah souq, flooding the tight alleyways and damaging stock, while many people were stranded and had to await rescue.

In the coastal city of Sur, south east of Muscat, the Royal Oman Police moved 31 families to safe places.

The city recorded more than 200mm of rain over two days – more than two year’s worth – and more rain is forecast according to the BBC.

Sultan Al Mukheini, 34, a Sur resident, told Middle Eastern news outlet The National: “Rainwater came all the way into our front room and kitchen. All our furniture on the ground floor is ruined. The whole street is flooded and we are afraid that the water is going to rise further.

“We called the police, and the rescue teams came a few hours later to get us out.”

He said the rescuers had used boats to get people to shelter in hotels away from the flooding.

The country’s meteorological office warned that unpredictable weather will continue for several more days, and the government has extended the existing stay-at-home order – to combat Covid-19 – by two more days, to 23 July.

The government has ordered a total shutdown during the festival of Eid – from Monday 19 July to 4am on Friday morning – in order to keep down the number of infections by preventing gatherings.

The country has also been subject to an 8pm to 4am stay-at-home order since 2 June.

This has now been extended by three hours, to start from 5pm each night.

The floods come as similar unprecedented floods have hit China, Germany, Belgium and London, raising concerns over the worsening climate crisis.

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