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April 18, 2024
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Dubai Airport struggles as heavy rains flood runways

Dubai International Airport, renowned as one of the world’s busiest aviation hubs, grappled with chaos on Thursday following unprecedented heavy rainfall that inundated its runways, causing disruptions to flight operations.

Despite efforts by the airport’s main operators, Emirates and Flydubai, to resume check-ins, Terminal 3 saw a surge in passenger volumes as airlines worked to manage the backlog of canceled and delayed flights. The airport issued a cautionary statement urging passengers to visit Terminal 3 only upon receiving flight departure confirmations from their respective airlines.

Footage captured the scenes of crowded terminals, depicting the strain on the infrastructure of the airport recently ranked as the second busiest globally.

The United Arab Emirates, along with neighboring regions, witnessed torrential storms on Tuesday, marking the heaviest rainfall in 75 years, with some areas receiving up to 250 millimeters (approximately 10 inches) of precipitation within 24 hours.

Videos circulated online showcased the extraordinary sight of large aircraft navigating through flooded tarmacs, causing sprays of water in their wake. Inside the terminals, hundreds of stranded passengers endured prolonged waits as flights faced cancellations and delays.

Among them, Mohit Mehta from Gurgaon, India, recounted his ordeal of spending over 30 hours at the airport amid chaotic conditions, describing waterlogging and roof leakages. Limited catering options in Terminal 1 exacerbated the situation, resulting in long queues and inflated prices for essential supplies.

Flight disruptions persisted on Thursday, with 549 flights experiencing delays and 31 cancellations, as reported by the flight tracking website FlightAware. Emirates bore the brunt of the delays, with 65% of its services affected, along with FlyDubai.

Emirates issued apologies to affected passengers, acknowledging the challenges in communication and service provision amidst the crisis. Stranded travelers voiced frustrations on social media platforms, highlighting difficulties in reaching airline representatives for assistance.

The repercussions extended beyond the airport, with access roads paralyzed by traffic standstills and some motorists abandoning vehicles due to rising floodwaters. The intensity of the rainfall reflected a broader trend of extreme weather events attributed to human-induced climate change, underscoring the vulnerability of urban infrastructure to such phenomena.

Amid the chaos, delivery services ceased, and residents grappled with flooded streets, impeding mobility. Videos circulated online depicting unconventional scenes of residents resorting to canoes and wakeboarding in flooded residential areas.

Tourists like Madiha Khawaja from London recounted harrowing experiences navigating through inundated streets, compounded by disruptions to essential services in residential buildings.

The episode underscored the vulnerability of urban centers to climate-related shocks, emphasizing the need for resilient infrastructure and proactive measures to mitigate future risks.

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