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UAE residents warned again of legal action against fake weather news rumours

Flash floods hit the UAE, Oman and Iran over the weekend [AFP]

Date of publication: 15 April, 2019

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Emirati police on Sunday warned residents of the Ras al-Khaimah emirate that spreading rumours on social media about recent flash foods could lead to fines of more than $250,000.

Emirati police has had to warned residents again not to share unverified news about weather following recent flash floods - or face a fine of more than $250,000.

Torrential downpours hit parts of the UAE, Oman and Iran over the weekend, causing flash floods which have been deadly in Iran.

Rescue teams evacuated around 500 people from Jabal Jais in the UAE's Ras al-Khaimah emirate on Sunday.

Residents and motorists became stuck in the area overnight due to the heavy rains, and had to be evacuated by helicopter.

Police in Ras al-Khaimah reminded residents they could be hit with fines of up to 1 million dirhams ($272,245) if they spread unverified news about the aftermath of the flash floods, local media reported.

"We call upon members of the public not to circulate information other than what has been released by official sources, and not to publish any information without verifying its authenticity," the police said.

This follows previous warnings by the country's interior ministry that Emiratis could even face jail time for spreading rumours - or even "negative" images - about extreme weather conditions.

The ministry said in 2016 that distributing photos and videos on social media which could damage the UAE's reputation and lead to panic within the country, as well as spreading rumours, could land residents in jail for up to three years.

Such warnings relate to the UAE's 2012 anti-cyber crime law which criminalised spreading rumours which damage "public order" and "national peace".

Torrential downpours also hit neighbouring Oman this weekend leading to flooding, with authorities in the sultanate warning on Sunday that occasional thundershowers could be expected.

Flash floods in Iran in recent weeks have led to the deaths of 76 people and caused more than $2.2 billion in damages, official said on Sunday.

"Twenty-five provinces and more than 4,400 villages across the country were affected by the floods," Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani-Fazli told parliament, according to the official IRNA news agency.

 

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