September 20, 2018
Middle East

Cyclone Mekunu expected to wreak havoc in southern Oman

Cyclone Mekunu, which wreaked havoc in the Yemeni island of Socotra, strengthened in intensity on Friday as it bore down on southern Oman, lashing the coast with high winds and rain.

Oman's directorate general of meteorology confirmed on Twitter that the cyclone had intensified and reached high wind speeds.

"Latest observations show that tropical Cyclone Mekunu has intensified to category 2," Oman's directorate general of meteorology said on Twitter.

The centre said the eye of the storm was expected to make landfall on the southern coast of the sultanate at 2000 local time (1600 GMT).

The city of Salalah, the second largest in Oman and capital of Dhofar province, was expected to bear the brunt of the onslaught.

Strong winds had already generated 12-metre-high (40-foot-high) waves.

After several hours of heavy rainfall in the province, the meteorology centre warned of flooding and winds of up to 170 kilometres (106 miles) per hour.

Civil defence authorities said they had evacuated 10,000 people to shelters, mainly inside Salalah, which has a population of over 200,000.

Authorities have urged residents to stay indoors.

On Thursday, Mekunu pummelled Socotra in war-torn Yemen, leaving at least 17 people missing, causing severe flooding and material damage.

The government declared the island in the northwest Indian Ocean, part of a UNESCO-protected archipelago for its rich biodiversity, a "disaster" zone.

Saudi troops were deployed to Socotra earlier this month following tensions over an Emirati military presence on the island.

The Yemeni high relief agency met with international humanitarian organisations in Aden late on Thursday to discuss the situation, the country's Saba news agency reported.

They decided to set up 11 relief centres in Socotra to provide shelter for evacuees.

Measures to provide aid to residents of three provinces in southeast Yemen also hit by the cyclone were also discussed.

Across the border in Oman, authorities have placed police and army on alert and closed schools until Monday in preparation for the cyclone.

State-run television said authorities had evacuated hundreds of residents from a small island off Salalah, the city where Oman's Sultan Qaboos was born.

Civil aviation authority has closed Salalah airport until midnight on Saturday.

In 2007, Cyclone Gonu tore through Oman, killing at least 49 people and causing damage estimated at $3.9bn (3.3 billion euros).

Original Article

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