Throwing normal life out of gear, heavy rain lashed several parts of the Sultanate, claiming three lives, even as international cyclone study centres and local weatherman yesterday predicted the possibility of tropical cyclone hitting Dhofar Coast.
© A. R. Rajkumar / Times of Oman
Narrow escape: Stuck in the strong currents of rain water in Hamriya area in Muscat yesterday, a motorist screamed for help, prompting several people to rush to his help.

"A tropical storm 'Keila' is forecast to strike land near Salalah and the probability for storm is 70 per cent within 12 hours. We have issued a yellow alert, which is CAT 1 (Severe Cyclonic Storm strength winds of at least 74 mph, 119 km/h or 64 knots 1-min sustained)," according to Tropical Storm Risk Centre.

The Directorate General of Meteorology and Air Navigation (DGMAN) of Oman has also confirmed the storm forecast and has urged citizens to exercise caution during rains.

"Even though the cyclone will result in heavy rains in Salalah and neighbouring areas, Muscat will receive only light to moderate rains," Goesta Hoffmann, associate professor of geology and geomorphology at the Gutech in Oman, told Times of Oman.

Meanwhile, the two-hour heavy rain disrupted normal life in the capital city, with the overflowing wadis in Al Batinah region claiming three lives.

According to a source from the Royal Oman Police (ROP), an Omani was washed away in Rustaq when he tried to cross a flooded wadi, while a woman and her child died in another wadi when the vehicle they were travelling in was swept away by underwater current as they tried to cross it.

The capital city was inundated for several hours after the heavy downpours, which began at around 2:00pm.

Patients airlifted

As the rain water entered Al Nadha Hospital in Hamriyah, the patients were airlifted to Royal Hospital and Khoula Hospital.
"Upon receiving information of water entering the hospital, police personnel rushed to the spot and evacuated the patients. The patients are now out of risk," said, Lt Gen Hassan bin Mohsen Al Shuraiqi, Inspector General of Police and Customs & Chairman of the National Commission for Civil Defence (NCCD).

Meanwhile, the flooded roads created huge traffic jams, accidents, and pile-ups in several parts of the city. Vehicles parked on roadsides were swept away by water, creating chaos in the city. A couple of cars and a pickup truck were washed away as the water level kept rising in Ruwi Wadi. According to eyewitnesses, a heavy truck parked behind the Muscat Municipality was swept away in the wadi.

Swept away

Meanwhile, in Wadi Kabir, a vehicle carrying school students was swept away by water, but they were rescued by the timely action of citizens and Civil Defence officials. Muttrah Souq, Greater Muttrah, Darsait, Ruwi and Hamriyah were flooded with water.

"Water has entered almost all the shops in Ruwi. My restaurant is flooded too. We are closing down for today," a hotel owner said.
Meanwhile, several cases of accidents were reported from different parts of the city.

"One bus overturned and around 14 cars were seen piled up on the road in Hamriyah area during the rain. Most of the vehicles are
damaged beyond repair," an eyewitness added.

As the traffic chaos continued in the city for hours, youngsters were seen extending a helping hand to people. "We can't sit idle when these situations arise. So, we came to help others," said a youngster, while controlling the traffic with his friends in front of Stars Cinema in Ruwi.

Meanwhile, light to heavy rains were witnessed in other parts of the Sultanate.

According to sources, the main cities in the Sultanate like Salalah, Sur, Nizwa and Sohar witnessed light to heavy rains yesterday. In Sur, a few buildings in low lying areas collapsed yesterday due to the heavy rain.

In Dhofar, heavy rains lashed Sadah leading to the overflow of Wadi Sadah. In Mirbat, moderate rain was witnessed in Tawi Ateer and light rains in Ghado. In Al Dakhliyah, Bahla was hit by heavy rain and Wadi Al Ala was overflowing. In Al Hamra, heavy rains fell in Wadi Ghoul, which led to the overflowing of Wadi Ghoul.