Oman – Deadly Flash Floods Hit North

At least 4 people have died and 2 are still missing after flash flooding swept away a vehicle in Oman.

Authorities were carrying out searches after 6 people went missing during flash floods in Wadi Bani Khalid, Oman, 18 May 2019. Photo: Royal Oman Police

Heavy rain and flooding struck areas of Oman from 18 May, 2019. Oman Meteorology (PACA) said Yanqul (Al Dhahirah Governorate) recorded 41.2 mm of rain in 24 hours to 20 May and Wadi Bani Khalid 39.4 mm during the same period. This is more than 10 times the normal monthly average for this area. According to PACA, on average during the month of May, the nearby city of Ibra usually sees 2.9 mm of rain.

The fatal incident occurred in Wadi Bani Khalid, a mountainous area in the Ash Sharqiyah North Governorate. Wadis (valleys or dry river beds) in this area frequently witness flash floods during spells of rain. Civil rescue teams warned people to avoid these areas during the severe weather.

Seven family members were in the vehicle when it was dragged by the flood water. One person managed to survive. Authorities have been searching for the 6 missing people over the last few days. Royal Oman Police said on 23 May that rescue teams have now retrieved 4 bodies, while 2 people remain missing.

Flooding affected other areas of the country. Oman’s civil defence (Public Authority for Civil Defence and Ambulance – PACDA) reported that by late 18 May it had responded to 90 call-outs and carried out 37 rescue operations, mostly people trapped in vehicles, including 19 in Ash Sharqiyah North Governorate and 17 in Muscat Governorate.

Flooding also blocked several roads and some flights from Muscat airport were diverted to the neighbouring UAE.