- Cyclone Mekunu hit the Yemeni island of Socotra Wednesday night, causing severe flooding and damage to houses
- 150 families had been evacuated and moved to government facilities after downpours caused houses and streets to flood, trapping people in their homes
(AFP) SOCOTRA, YEMEN & DUBAI: Hundreds evacuated from their homes after Cyclone Mekunu hit the Yemeni island of Socotra Wednesday night, causing severe flooding and damage to houses, officials said.
Several are feared dead and others reported missing. Four crew members on board a boat that sunk when the storm hit the island in the Arabian Sea were missing, a fisheries ministry official told AFP.
Another official said that 150 families had been evacuated and moved to government facilities after downpours caused houses and streets to flood, trapping people in their homes.
Some residents carrying children tried to escape through the flooded streets, an AFP correspondent said.
#Mekunu now a very severe cyclonic storm passing east of #Socotra. Storm will make landfall near the #Yemen/#Oman border on Saturday. Flooding and wind damage likely with widespread rainfall over 250mm (10 inches) along the border. pic.twitter.com/A9PixYHWAc
— Jason Nicholls (@jnmet) May 23, 2018
He said there had been a number of warnings sent out in the last week, and government bodies and NGOs had also been alerted to the pending storm.
But he said that not everyone had been aware of the cyclone as it approached.
“We have notified people, however, the problem is the information does not always reach everyone, like those who were out at sea…. Two boats have sunk and 11 people are missing,” Hameed told Arab News.
Fake news fears
“There is a lot of false information being shared on social media,” Hameed warned. “People must get the correct information from officials such as ourselves.”
He said already the northeast and east sections of Socotra were the worst affected.
“The cyclone is now 85km from the island,” he added.
“We are monitoring the cyclone, and it seems that in the next 24 hours it will be heading towards coastal cities of Yemen in Mahrah, Hadramaut, and Salalah in Oman,”
“We urge local officials in coastal towns to warn people of the cyclone. They must alert schools, mosques, hospitals and local community centers.”
In Oman, they are praying it will pass
In neighboring Oman, authorities announced through the official news agency they were taking “necessary precautions” in case the cyclone hits the Gulf sultanate.
— Fatima Alasrar (@YemeniFatima) May 23, 2018
In the province of Dhofar in southern Oman, the meteorological department had already recorded “medium to heavy” rainfall of between 12 to 25 mm, according to local press reports.
The report added that they were expecting the storm to intensify over the next 24 hours, leading to thunderstorms and strong winds.
“Calm before the storm”
People were advised to avoid going out to sea following warnings off Oman’s southern and south coast of rough conditions with waves reaching heights of between five to eight meters.
Speaking to Arab News from Salalah, event organizer Abdulaziz Ahmed Yousuf Al-Amri said people were preparing for the worst.
“There are some parts of Salalah that have heavy rain… The weather is okay at the moment – but it feels like this is the calm before the storm.”
“We are praying that it will not be bad and will pass without any major impact.”
“But everyone is worried about what might happen, so they are getting ready,” Al-Amri added.
“They are stocking up on water and food, just in case something bad does happen,”
“They are putting gas in their cars.”