Monday, 20 November 2017

Teenager missing after flash flood in Khor Fakkan, United Arab Emirates.

Rescue teams are searching for a teenage boy who was swept away by a flash flood close to the town of Khor Fakkan on the east coast of the United Arab Emirates on Thursday 16 November 2017. Albert Joy, 18, an Indian national studying at the Birla Institute of Technology Dubai Campus at Ras al Khaimah, was travelling in a vehicle with five friends when it became trapped in the flood. Mr Joy's friends were persuaded to leap into the water, from where they were rescued by local residents, but Joy himself was apparently afraid to leave the vehicle and was swept away with it. Local rescue police teams and volunteers searching for Mr Joy have been joined by specialist police rescue teams from Sharjah and Dubai, as well as the Abu Dhabi Police Air Wing.

Indian students on top of a vehicle trapped in a flood near Khor Fakkan, United Arab Emiates, on 16 November 2017. UAE2All/The National.

Like many desert areas the Arabian Peninsula, while generally arid, is prone to occasional severe flooding. This stems from two causes; firstly the arid climate prevents the development of a thick soil layer which would be expected in less dry areas, so that in much of the area (non-porous) bedrock is either exposed or close to the surface, and secondly the hot climate leads to heavy evaporation from nearby seas and oceans, so that if the wind changes direction and brings water-laden air to the area, it brings a lot of precipitation with it. This combination of heavy rainfall and low ground absorbency leads to large amounts of water at the surface, typically moving downhill at some speed. Wadis, dry channels or ravines through which these sudden floods are channelled, can be particularly dangerous at these times, particularly as they often appear to resemble natural pathways or even camp sites to people unfamiliar with the climate. 

The approximate location of the 16 November Khor Fakkan flash flood. Google Maps.

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