Mekunu Lashes Yemen, Oman after Being Downgraded to Tropical Storm

Mekunu Lashes Yemen, Oman after Being Downgraded to Tropical Storm

Saturday, 26 May, 2018 - 10:45
Cyclone Mekunu blew into the Arabian Peninsula early Saturday, drenching arid Oman and Yemen with rain, cutting off power lines, officials said. (AP)
Asharq Al-Awsat
Cyclone Mekunu was downgraded to a tropical storm on Saturday after lashing eastern Yemen and southern Oman, leaving several people dead in its wake.

In Yemen, officials said on Friday that winds blew down houses and took out communication lines and water services in the country’s easternmost province on the border with Oman.

Rageh Bakrit, the governor of al-Mahra province, said on his official Twitter account that the Hawf district was worst affected.

Emergency aid, including drinking water and fuel, was sent to province. He did not say whether there were any casualties.

Bakrit later said that communication lines in some areas, including Hawf, have been partially fixed, promising full restoration in the coming hours.

Cyclone Mekunu also hit the Yemeni island of Socotra, listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

Yemeni security officials said rescuers have recovered two bodies from the island, with more than 30 people still missing.

The officials stated four Indians were rescued from a ship that ran aground during the storm, and that another two Yemenis were found alive.

SABA news agency quoted Socotra Governor Ramzy Mahrous as confirming that four sailors were found alive.

Five Yemenis and two Indian sailors were confirmed dead when Mekunu hit Socotra on Thursday, causing heavy damage, Yemen's fisheries minister Fahad Kafin said.

In Oman, at least two people were killed after the storm pummeled its southern coast.

Mekunu had intensified to a category two cyclone as it hit Oman's Dhofar and Al-Wusta provinces on the Arabian Sea on Friday, battering the coast with torrential rains, strong winds and massive waves.

The national civil defense committee said on Saturday the cyclone had subsided to a tropical storm but was still lashing the country with heavy rain and winds at some 90 kilometers (56 miles) an hour.

Oman's directorate general of meteorology said the cyclone had gone inland and was heading northwest into Saudi Arabia, but that heavy rains would likely continue into Sunday.

Oman police reported that a man died after floods swept him away with his car near Salalah, a day after a 12-year old girl died when a gust of wind smashed her into a wall.

Three wounded Asians were rescued and civil defense teams said they had saved hundreds of people including 260 foreign sailors trapped at sea.

In Salalah, rains had almost stopped on Saturday, an AFP photographer said, but many streets were still under water and nearby valleys were flooded.

Material damage was mostly limited to agriculture, with many farms swept by winds at up to 170 kilometers (105 miles), he added.

Mekunu is now heading towards southern Saudi Arabia and is expected to hit parts of the Empty Quarter, one of the world's most arid deserts, late Saturday.

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