3 dead, thousands without power as Cyclone Mekunu hits Oman


Cyclone "Phet" brought strong winds and heavy rain to North Oman when it made landfall in 2010.

Yemen's pro-government SABA news agency reported that 17 people were missing after two ships capsized in the storm and three vehicles washed away.

The Oman Directorate-General of Meteorology said this morning that "Mekunu" is located 200 km away off Salalah city, with the main convective band only 50 km away.

Omani forecasters said Salalah and the surrounding area would get at least 200 millimeters (7.87 inches) of rain, over twice the city's annual downfall.

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

Yemeni security officials said rescuers recovered two bodies on Socotra, while more than 30 people remain missing. Authorities remained anxious about flash flooding in the area's valleys and potential mudslides down its nearby cloud-shrouded mountains.

As of 1.30am, the NCM has downgraded Mekunu to Category 1 tropical storm.

Cyclone tears through Yemeni island Socotra

Meanwhile, Bader Al Baddei, the administrator of web-based forum (www.rathth.net) that discusses weather in Oman, told The News Minute the situation is quite bad in Salalah.

An Indian labourer died in a flooded valley, a man was reported drowned when his auto was swept away, and a 12-year-old girl was killed when winds blew her into a wall, Oman police said. About 600 people, mostly labourers, huddled at the West Salalah School, some sleeping on mattresses on the floors of classrooms, where math and English lesson posters hung on the walls. The cyclone is likely to approach Dhofar and Al Wusta coasts on Friday and Saturday leading to very heavy thundershowers associated with fresh to strong gale wind.

Flash floods engulfed Socotra's streets, cutting electricity and communication lines.

Weather prediction charts also showed that the tropical cyclone will intensify into a Category (2) storm within 12 hours, PACA announced in Alert No. 3 at 12:00 am.

Largely untouched by Yemen's three-year-old war, it is under the control of the internationally recognized government whose president, Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, is in exile in Saudi Arabia.

37% of Socotra's plant species, 90% of its reptile species and 95% of its land snail species do not occur anywhere else in the world.

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

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