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Fri 3 Apr 2015 12:58 AM

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Sandstorm causes 135 traffic accidents in Dubai - police

Thick orange haze prompts more than 1,600 calls to emergency services between 6am and midday on Thursday

Sandstorm causes 135 traffic accidents in Dubai - police

A major sandstorm which hit most parts of the Gulf region on Thursday caused dozens of traffic accidents in Dubai, police have said.

The thick orange haze that had blanketed Saudi Arabia on Wednesday moved eastwards and severely reduced visibility in the emirate, causing 135 moderate to minor traffic accidents.

Dubai Police's Control and Command Centre revealed that emergency services received 1,639 calls between 6am and midday.

In a statement cited by news agency WAM, Brigadier Omar Al Shamsi, deputy director of Drivers Directorate, urged motorists to exercise utmost caution while driving in bad weather conditions.

He said motorists should adhere to driving safety rules during bad weather where low visibility and rains lead to serious crashes.

The sandstorm disrupted flights at Dubai's two international airports on Thursday and caused delays at other air transport centres in the Gulf.

Dubai Airports said it had re-routed some flights during the day to Al Maktoum, Dubai's second airport that mainly handles cargo, and was working with all airlines to minimise disruption.

Air Arabia, which has a base in the smaller emirates of Sharjah and Ras Al Khaimah, has also experienced delays to scheduled flights due to the weather, a spokesman for the low-cost airline said.

Saudi Arabia's General Authority for Civil Aviation said in a statement late on Wednesday that flights from Riyadh, Dammam, Qassim and Hafr al-Batin had either been delayed or rescheduled due to the sandstorm.

A Qatar Airways spokesman reported minor disruption to some of its flights at Doha's Hamad International Airport on Thursday morning.

Bahrain Airport's flight schedule showed some cancelled and delayed regional flights operated by Gulf Air, with few other disruptions.

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