Chaos on Maltese roads by raging stormwaters

The Met Office earlier today issued an ‘Orange’ warning as a month’s worth of rain flooded Maltese roads and caused chaos across Malta, obliging the deployment all over the Islands of the Civil Protection Department’s firefighters as well as Police and Armed Forces of Malta personnel to conduct several rescue operations of motorists.

The thundery and gusty rain/hail showers started in different areas early in the morning but the situation improved in the late morning. More rain and occasional hail was also forecast for the afternoon, yet the chaos subsided late in the morning when the rain stopped. Up to 100 mm of rain were recorded in the hardest-hit areas. Website “Maltese Islands Weather” explained that an area of low pressure had developed around the central Mediterranean, bringing warm, humid air from the south over cool, dry air locally. The atmosphere above was destabilised as a result, leading to the development of an area of showers and thunderstorms.

Numerous cars were swept away and roads were blocked by raging waters and stalled cars as the heavy rain flooded roads all over Malta. Nobody was reported with serious injuries, the police said.

The roads in areas such as Burmarrad and Żebbiegħ, between St Microelectronics and the airport tunnels in Kirkop, and near Casa Arkati in Mosta were closed as cars stalled because of the floodwaters. A portion of the Coast Road was also closed because of flooding and a wall’s collapse. Same on the Żebbuġ to Attard road, with a traffic lane closed as well because a rubble wall collapsed.

With the now decades-long customary heavy flooding in Msida, even The Strand in Gżira and the bottom of T’Alla w’Ommu Hill in Naxxar were reported as virtually impassable. Buqana Road between Rabat and Mosta turned into a river and was closed.

Plastic barriers, used to cordon off road works and supposedly meant to be filled up with sand or water, were seen swept away in several areas like in Mrieħel. Motorists were obliged to do U-turns as heavy floods made some roads treacherous. A report was filed with the Police that people in a car carried away by floodwaters in Żebbiegħ. Two reports were received from Burmarrad of a motorcycle being carried away along with its driver, and a car with an elderly driver in it was also carried away.

Swept away motorbike being recovered along Burmarrad Road, where it got stuck after being swept away by the storm waters.

Malta Public Transport service interrupted in some areas

Many bus routes were being affected by the weather conditions, resulting in a low service level. Malta Public Transport said “We are working to provide a service where it is safe to do so.”

Elderly motorist and rescuers winch-rescued by military helicopter

An elderly motorist and two Civil Protection Department (CPD) rescuers had to be rescue-winched up to safety earlier today from Burmarrad flooding stormwaters by an Armed Forces of Malta helicopter.

The CPD, the Home Affairs Minister Dr Byron Camilleri and the local web news portal Lovin Malta all shared video footage of the rescue operation, as the Islands were hit by an overnight storm.

The elderly motorist was trapped in her car by rising waters and when the two CPD personnel went to her aid, they also found themselves in difficult and the AFM’s Air Wing was called in for assistance.

Several vehicles were dragged away in several localities as the roads became flooded by the rain’s stormwaters. Luckily, nobody was reported to be seriously injured.

Later on in the morning, along a flooded Salina road, a family-of-four and a taxi driver were aided to safety when they had to wade in the waters to reach dry land.

As the Meteorological Office at Luqa Airport issued an orange warning, the police said several rescue operations were carried out across Malta.

The CPD urged all not to put themselves in unnecessary danger and to avoid places where the sea or water passes, like for example along valleys.

According to the CPD, reports indicate that this is one of the worst storms in many times.