Majority of Pakistanis stranded after record-breaking UAE storm evacuated: Defence Minister Asif

Published April 19, 2024
People queue at a flight connection desk after a rainstorm hit Dubai, causing delays at the Dubai International Airport, United Arab Emirates, April 17. — Reuters
People queue at a flight connection desk after a rainstorm hit Dubai, causing delays at the Dubai International Airport, United Arab Emirates, April 17. — Reuters

Defence Minister Khawaja Asif said on Friday that most of the Pakistani passengers stranded at Al Ain Airport following this week’s record-breaking storm in the United Arab Emirates were evacuated.

The storm pounded the UAE on Tuesday, with 20 reported dead in Oman and one in the UAE. The UAE saw its heaviest rains in the 75 years that records have been kept, bringing much of the country to a standstill for two days and causing significant damage.

Meanwhile, some 150 Pakistanis passengers were left stranded for hours at the UAE’s Al Ain Airport on Tuesday. Their flight, Flydubai FZ-334, en route from Karachi to Dubai, was diverted due to heavy rainfall that flooded the Dubai airport, making it impossible for the aircraft to land.

Today, the defence minister, who also holds the portfolio of the aviation ministry, shared what he said was a report from Pakistan’s ambassador to the UAE regarding the stranded passengers.

“Most of the passengers returned home and our embassy is in contact with the rest of the passengers and arrangements are being made for their return,” the minister said.

As per the report he shared, Pakistan’s embassy had arranged transport for the 150 passengers stranded at Al Ain Airport to Dubai.

“Most of Pakistanis stranded in Dubai have left for Pakistan. Around 150 passengers left for Multan and Karachi. As per latest information, remaining two stranded Pakistani passengers will be departing from Dubai to their destinations latest by evening,” the report said.

It added that a number of Pakistanis travelling from the US and European countries were facing difficulties in getting further connections to Pakistan due to the uncertain flight schedule.

“The embassy and consulate general officials are paying regular visits to airports to help these people and make their stay comfortable in the transit area,” the report said, saying that the flight delays would persist for a few more days till the normalisation of scheduled flights.

Flight operations limited at Dubai Airport

Meanwhile, Dubai Airport said on Friday it was limiting the number of flights arriving for two days, as it continued to struggle to clear the backlog.

The airport, one of the world’s busiest, will limit arriving flights for 48 hours from noon local time on Friday, it said on X.

Earlier, Dubai’s flagship carrier Emirates — one of the world’s biggest international airlines — said check-in was suspended for all customers with onward connections through the city until 2359 GMT on Friday. Those travelling to Dubai as their final destination may check in and travel as usual.

Thousands of passengers have been affected by flight cancellations this week after the storm flooded taxiways, Dubai Airport’s Chief Executive Paul Griffiths told local radio station Dubai Eye on Friday.

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