Dubai floods LIVE: Thousands of UK travellers suffer flights chaos as torrential rain grounds planes

Dubai floods LIVE: Thousands of UK travellers suffer flights chaos as torrential rain grounds planes

Thousands of UK passengers are suffering flight disruption after Dubai International Airport was flooded by an intense storm.

Emirates has cancelled seven flights between the United Arab Emirates (UAE) airport and the UK, with British Airways diverting or axing four.

The airport urged passengers to stay away "unless absolutely necessary" after it was hit by more than a year's average rainfall in 24 hours.

Many flights were delayed by several hours on Tuesday, such as one operated by Emirates which landed at Heathrow more than five hours behind schedule at 9.30pm.

Dubai International Airport - which is the world's second busiest airport - was deluged on Tuesday after the UAE was hit by the most rain it has recorded in data going back to 1949.

Follow latest updates below...

'Absolute carnage' at flooded airport

10:24 , Josh Salisbury

Passengers at rain-soaked Dubai International Airport have described the situation as “carnage”.

Arrivals were halted Tuesday night, and passengers struggled to reach terminals through the floodwater covering surrounding roads.

One couple, who spoke to the AP news agency anonymously for fear of official reprisal called the situation at the airport "absolute carnage."

"You cannot get a taxi. There's people sleeping in the Metro station. There's people sleeping in the airport," the man said on Wednesday.

They ended up getting a taxi to near to their home some 18 miles away, but floodwater on the road stopped them. A bystander then helped them over a highway barrier with their carry-on luggage.

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

Dubai flights at Gatwick and Heathrow cancelled

10:33 , Josh Salisbury

Several flights heading to Dubai from Heathrow and Gatwick have been cancelled today due to the weather conditions.

These include the EK012 Emirates / Qantas QF 8012 flight at 10.15 from Gatwick, and the EK006D Emirates service at 11.10 flight from Heathrow.

Passengers vent frustration at airport chaos

10:52 , Josh Salisbury

Passengers at Dubai International Airport have aired their anger after many were forced to sleep in the terminal building due to the cancellations.

One said in a message to Emirates: “My daughter is travelling alone and stuck at Dubai for flight EK009 today.

“All check in is cancelled as airport at dangerous capacity levels. Assuming this flight will also be cancelled. No sight of Emirates people in T3 to support.”

Another, who was stuck in Abu Dhabi, added: “Still stuck in the Abu Dhabi and my transitioning flight from Dubai to my final destination has been cancelled and Emirates is nowhere to be found. No communication from them whatsoever.”

Heavy rain killed one person, say authorities

11:06 , Josh Salisbury

Authorities in the United Arab Emirates have said the torrential downpour killed at least one person.

The UAE witnessed a record rainfall with 254 mm falling in Al Ain on Tuesday in less than 24 hours, according to the national meteorology centre.

That was the most since records began in 1949, before the country was established in 1971.

Diisruption continues on Wednesday with Emirates airline suspending check-in for passengers departing Dubai airport until midnight.

Dubai International Airport, one of the world's busiest, said it was facing significant disruptions after the heavy rains delayed or diverted flights and had impacted flight crews.


Airport still functioning with limited capacity

11:52 , Josh Salisbury

Dubai International Airport has said it is still functioning with limited capacity.

It said there were “limited transportation options” affecting flights, as ground crews struggled to reach planes.

“Recovery will take some time,” the airport said. “We thank you for your patience and understanding while we work through these challenges.”

Continued issues with flooding, says airport CEO

12:46 , Josh Salisbury

Paul Griffiths, the airport's chief executive, said there are continued issues with flooding on Wednesday, saying every place an aircraft could be safely parked was taken.

Some aircraft had been diverted to Al Maktoum International Airport at Dubai World Central, the city-state's second airfield.

"It remains an incredibly challenging time. In living memory, I don't think anyone has ever seen conditions like it," Mr Griffiths told the state-owned talk radio station Dubai Eye.

"We are in uncharted territory, but I can assure everyone we are working as hard as we possibly can to make sure our customers and staff are looked after."

Passenger: 'People are being forced to sit on floor'

13:53 , Josh Salisbury

Kanish Kumar Deb Barman, 39, said he had been stuck at Dubai airport with his wife since around 4am, when his flight landed late from Paris, missing his next flight to Calcutta, in India.

"People are just lying around in the airport. There is not enough seats and chairs to, you know, let them sit,” he said.

“They are sitting on the floor," he told the Reuters news agency on Wednesday afternoon, as he waited to board the next available flight.

Dubai trip has been 'disaster', says solicitor

14:29 , Josh Salisbury

A solicitor from Merseyside who has been stuck at an airport in Dubai for more than seven hours said the experience has been "a disaster".

Paul Lidwith, 40, from St Helens, booked a flight with Emirates from Auckland in New Zealand, via Sydney, to Manchester, but his journey was delayed after his stopover to Dubai International was diverted because of the flooding.

Mr Lidwith, who was diverted to Dubai World Central - Al Maktoum International Airport, located an hour away from Dubai International, said there is no food or water and claimed staff at Emirates had not provided information about his flight to Manchester.

He said: "This airport is for cargo planes and it deals with about maybe half a dozen flights a day. They couldn't handle the flights that were diverted from Dubai International.

"We had to wait on the tarmac for nearly five hours. It took our total journey time from leaving Sydney to getting off the plane here to 22 hours."

Photos show airport outside Dubai packed with diverted passengers

15:10 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks

British solicitor Paul Lidwith, 40, has been stranded in an airport outside Dubai, after his stopover to Dubai International was diverted because of the flooding.

He earlier described his experience as “a disaster”.

He has now shared photos showing Dubai World Central – Al Maktoum International Airport, located around an hour away from Dubai International, showing it packed with crowds of diverted passengers.

Paul Lidwith waiting at Dubai World Central airport (Paul Lidwith/PA Wire)
Paul Lidwith waiting at Dubai World Central airport (Paul Lidwith/PA Wire)
Crowds at Dubai World Central airport (Paul Lidwith/PA Wire)
Crowds at Dubai World Central airport (Paul Lidwith/PA Wire)
Dubai World Central airport is around 23 miles outside Dubai (Paul Lidwith/PA Wire)
Dubai World Central airport is around 23 miles outside Dubai (Paul Lidwith/PA Wire)

The Only Way is Essex stars stranded in Dubai floods

15:19 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks

The Only Way Is Essex stars Joey Essex and James ‘Arg’ Argent were left stranded on the streets of Dubai amid the record-breaking rainfall.

Essex, 33, who was a contestant on Dancing On Ice in 2023, was caught up in the aftermath of the torrential rainfall and said the pair had “decided to hitchhike after hours of trying to get back home.”

James Argent and Joey Essex (PA Archive)
James Argent and Joey Essex (PA Archive)

On his Instagram story, the reality star posted a video of 36-year-old Argent standing next to a flooded road with his hand stuck out in front of him, as Essex said: “Hitchhiking, we have no choice.”

Essex also uploaded a clip of him walking along the street pavement, part of which had seemingly collapsed, as a car tried to make its way across a flooded road that resembled a river.

In the next video Essex was seen holding his shoes as he walked along the streets barefoot, with the water around his ankles.

London-Dubai flights still disrupted

16:06 , Josh Salisbury

London to Dubai flights are still disrupted after the heavy rain in the UAE.

The 2.30pm QF8010 Emirates / Qantas flight from Gatwick is delayed by nearly five hours, while later flights are also expected to be delayed.

Meanwhile the 4.50pm Emirates EK030 flight from Gatwick is delayed by nearly six hours.

UAE rains linked to cloud 'seeding'

16:51 , Josh Salisbury

One of the UAE’s main newspapers, The National, rejected suggestions that cloud seeding was responsible for the three-day downpour across the UAE. However, it said it could have played a minor role.

Even though plenty of places have inadequate drainage, the UAE has been conducting seeding operations since 2002 to address water security concerns.

Ahmed Habib, a meteorologist, told Bloomberg that Gulf state's National Centre of Meteorology sent out seeding planes from Al Ain airport on Monday and Tuesday to capitalise on convective cloud formations.

Many videos of the carnage caused by the heavy rain have been circulated on social media. In one, footage showed cars being washed off roads.

Read more here.

Expert says cloud 'seeding' not to blame

17:24 , Jordan King

A meteorologist at the University of Reading, Professor Maarten Ambaum, said the rains in Dubai were not linked to cloud seeding.

He told Sky News: “It is indeed true that in the Emirates there is an operational cloud-seeding programme and it's clear that for an arid region like that, they really want to target the few clouds that they have and make those clouds rain - because those clouds do not produce rain a lot of the time.

“In this particular case, no cloud seeding occurred, this particular case was a well-predicted storm.

“People knew there would be severe rain.”

Did cloud seeding cause the storm?

17:49 , Jordan King

Rainfall is rare in the UAE and elsewhere on the Arabian Peninsula, that is typically known for its dry desert climate. Summer air temperatures can soar above 50 degrees Celsius.

But the UAE and Oman also lack drainage systems to cope with heavy rains and submerged roads are not uncommon during rainfall.

Following Tuesday's events, questions were raised whether cloud seeding, a process that the UAE frequently conducts, could have caused the heavy rains.

Cloud seeding is a process in which chemicals are implanted into clouds to increase rainfall in an environment where water scarcity is a concern.

The UAE, located in one of the hottest and driest regions on earth, has been leading the effort to seed clouds and increase precipitation.

But the UAE's meteorology agency said there were no such operations before the storm.

Did climate change cause the storm?

17:50 , Jordan King

Experts say the huge rainfall was likely due to a normal weather system that was exacerbated by climate change - instead of cloud seeding.

A low pressure system in the upper atmosphere, coupled with low pressure at the surface had acted like a pressure 'squeeze' on the air, according to Esraa Alnaqbi, a senior forecaster at the UAE government's National Centre of Meteorology.

That squeeze, intensified by the contrast between warmer temperatures at ground level and colder temperatures higher up, created the conditions for the powerful thunderstorm, she said.

The "abnormal phenomenon" was not unexpected in April as when the season changes the pressure changes rapidly, she said, adding that climate change also likely contributed to the storm.

Climate scientists say that rising global temperatures, caused by human-led climate change, is leading to more extreme weather events around the world, including intense rainfall.

"Rainfall from thunderstorms, like the ones seen in UAE in recent days, sees a particular strong increase with warming. This is because convection, which is the strong updraft in thunderstorms, strengthens in a warmer world," said Dim Coumou, a professor in climate extremes at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

That concludes our Dubai coverage

19:16 , Jordan King

This is the end of our Dubai coverage, check our homepage for any major uopdates.