Thousands evacuated in Fujairah and Kalba

Our Staff Reporters
Filed on June 7, 2007

THOUSANDS of people were evacuated from coastal areas and nearby farms and villages in Fujairah and Kalba in Sharjah yesterday, as strong high-speed winds, high tidal waves and severe sand storms battered the UAE’s East Coast in the wake of Cyclone Gonu advancing up the Arabian Gulf.

While Fujairah remained the worst hit yesterday and its port was closed indefinitely as a precautionary measure, the situation in neighbouring Kalba worsened last night as prevailing rough weather conditions in the area intensified — prompting a quick evacuation of local inhabitants by the Army, Police, Civil Defence, Red Crescent and other personnel mobilised to counter the contingency.

No casualties were reported till late last night although there were reports of heavy damage in the affected areas. The full extent of the damage has yet to be estimated.

The UAE Government and local authorities in the country’s seven emirates remained on heightened alert yesterday, even as met office sources reported that all coastal areas of the capital, Abu Dhabi, and parts of Sharjah are likely to be affected today.

Dubai and most parts of the Northern Emirates, the sources added, will continue to witness, “unsettled weather conditions and isolated thunder storms.”

In Fujairah, even as huge tidal waves lashed across the coastal sandbag barricades flooding main streets along the sea front and submerging homes in the vicinity, those evacuated were accommodated in school campuses and other safe buildings.

Vehicular traffic in the emirate was totally disrupted and a number of boats alone the beach were either heavily damaged or else sank where they were anchored. Several beach hotels were closed down, even as flight operations were disrupted.

All roads leading to and from Kalba were sealed by the police and people advised to use alternative routes.

In Ajman, the local Municipality and Planning Department authorities raised the alert level and round-the-clock arrangements were made to tackle any emergency situation.

In Abu Dhabi, one of the world’s top oil exporting companies ADNOC (Abu Dhabi National Oil Company) reported its production processes and port operations had not been affected, although measures have been taken to meet any eventuality.

Health authorities in all emirates have also cautioned residents that all precautions should be taken and people should try and remain indoors if possible, in view of the “current unsettled weather conditions in the Gulf region.”

Meanwhile, the US Navy forces in the Gulf announced yesterday that they were ready “to provide any humanitarian assistance needed by any country in the region.”

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