Tremors Trigger Panic in Northern Emirates

Salah Al Deberky & Adel Arafah
Filed on April 2, 2009

FUJAIRAH/ABU DHABI óWith continued rough weather conditions affecting life across the country, two minor tremors, measuring 2.9 and 3.5 on the Richter scale hit Fujairah in the morning hours on Tuesday.

The first tremor took place at the Gulf of Oman at 6.21am while the second hit North Dibba at 9.35am.

The tremors were felt by the residents of Dibba, Fujairah and Dibba Al Hisn.  The ceiling of an under construction building collapse in Dibba Al Hisn injured three workers.

Officials of the Dibba Al Hisn Municipality said that it was not clear if tremors or heavy rain caused the collapse and that the pillars of the building might not have been strong enough which led to the collapse. 

“Experts were delegated from Sharjah to investigate the causes of the collapse of the ceiling,” said Mohammed Al Matwa, Director Dibba Al Hisn Municipality.

Abu Dhabi witnessed a similar incident at 10.30am when a three storey building on Elektra Street shifted and partly ‘sunk’into the ground. 

Panicked occupants were evacuated by the Abu Dhabi civil defence to two other buildings close by as a precautionary measure. The continuous heavy rains may have caused the building to shift and collapse.

Nobody was injured but the flat of an Indian family and a tailoring shop was badly damaged.

First Lieutenant Saif Mohair Al Tinaji, Acting Head of the Operations Room at the Abu Dhabi Civil Defense Department said that a wall on the ground floor of the building fell resulting in the floor sinking a metre-deep.

“The Abu Dhabi Police called on engineering experts at the municipality to examine the building and ensure its safety. On clearance, the residents returned to their flats except for the ground floor occupants which was severely damaged,” Tinaji said.

“While sleeping with my 4-year-old son, I heard a noise on the wall beside the bed, and suddenly I saw dust rising from the wall. It then collapsed but fortunately did not cave inside the room. My child and I escaped death miraculously,” said Depa Srinavan.

The family will be relocated to another apartment by the Abu Dhabi Real Estate Company.

“We agreed with the Abu Dhabi Real estate Company, the responsible body for the building to accommodate the affected family in another flat to end their plight,” said Humaid Al Shamsi, Director of Aid and Emergency Department at the Red Crescent Authority.

Meanwhile, the meteorological department in the capital said that the building collapse had nothing to do with bad weather.

“The collapse of the building has no connection with the bad weather conditions. It might have happened because of  the substandard construction material used,” said Mohammed Al Abri, spokesperson of the National Centre of Meteorology and Seismology in Abu Dhabi.

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