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Thu 10 Mar 2016 11:00 AM

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UAE rains ‘cause 253 accidents’, schools stay shut

Dubai Police says received 3,200 emergency calls as heavy rain wreaked havoc across UAE on Wednesday

UAE rains ‘cause 253 accidents’, schools stay shut

Dubai Police reported 253 accidents on the emirate’s roads on Wednesday, as torrential rains brought the country to a standstill.

In a statement on its website, Dubai Police said the command and control centre at the General Directorate of Traffic had answered more than 3,200 emergency calls in a seven-hour period.

Colonel Khazraj Al Khazraji, acting director of Dubai Police Command & Control Unit, was quoted as saying: “The Dubai Police command and control unit revealed that it received more than 3,200 emergency calls and recorded 253 traffic accidents between 6am until 1pm today [Wednesday].”

It prompted a warning from the director of Dubai Traffic Police, Colonel Saif Muhair Al Mazroui. “Motorists should always keep a safe distance between cars and adjust their speed to the weather conditions,” he said.

“Allow extra time for your journey and check your planned route. It’s also advisable to slow down as rain makes roads slippery.”

Al Mazroui said no fatalities occurred during the 253 crashes on Wednesday, but he warned that accidents that occur during bad weather conditions that cause low visibility tend to be more severe. “People should follow safety instructions and regulation to avoid any accidents,” he said in the statement.

“Make sure your windows are clean and leave enough distance between vehicles. Only use the hazard lights for emergency situations. Take your time.”

Heavy rain and winds swept across the country on Wednesday, causing chaos on the roads and forcing schools to be shut. In Abu Dhabi and Dubai, cars were partially submerged under water, in some cases forcing their owners to abandon them.

The UAE Ministry of Education issued an order on Thursday stating that all government and private schools should remain shut until the weekend, to ensure safety of students in poor weather conditions.

Khaleej Times cited a statement from the ministry that reportedly said: “Hussein Al Hamadi, the Minister of Education, issued a decision to provisionally suspend the official working hours on Thursday of all government and private schools in the state.

“The decision comes due to weather conditions, and to ensure the safety of students. Students will come back on next Sunday.”

However, Indian curriculum schools and centers of the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) annual board exams for Grade 10 and 12 will remain open and examinations will take place as per the timetable, until further notice.

Mohammed Darwish, chief of the Regulations and Permits Commission at the UAE’s Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) added in a statement: “Due to predicted weather conditions, private schools in Dubai will remain closed on Thursday (10 March, 2016), keeping in view the safety of students and staff.

“Schools are advised to use their discretion to assist any students appearing for external examinations."

Unsettled weather was expected to continue throughout Thursday, although some parts of the UAE reported blue skies in the morning.