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    Thursday, 24 May 2018

    Powerful Cyclone Mekunu bears down on Oman, State of emergency declared in Socotra

    Seven people were missing and hundreds of others evacuated from their homes after Cyclone Mekunu hit the Yemeni island of Socotra Wednesday night, causing severe flooding and damage to houses, officials said.
    Four of the missing were crew on board a boat that sunk when the storm hit the island in the Arabian Sea, 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.
    Authorities called on humanitarian organisations and the Saudi-led military coalition that is battling Huthi rebels in the country to help, according to state-run news agency Saba.
    In neighbouring Oman, authorities announced through the official news agency they were taking “necessary precautions” in case the cyclone hits the Gulf sultanate.
    Millions of Yemenis are living in dire conditions as a result of a long-running civil conflict, which since 2015 has pitted a Saudi-led coalition against the Iran-backed Huthi rebels.
    But Socotra has been spared involvement in the violence, which has claimed nearly 10,000 lives since March 2015 and triggered what the United Nations has called the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.A tropical system in the Arabian Sea is expected to make landfall in the Arabian Peninsula later this week.The system reached cyclone strength and was named Cyclone Mekunu on Tuesday evening local time.Mekunu is currently a very severe cyclonic storm with winds equal to a Category 2 hurricane in the Atlantic or east Pacific Ocean.A north to northwest track in the coming days will bring the risk for life-threatening impacts to Socotra, Oman and Yemen.Socotra has already felt impacts from Mekunu as the storm passes just north of the island, continuing waves of rain and wind.A state of emergency was declared in Socotra, an island located between the Horn of Africa and Arabian Peninsula, after the storm flooded villages, capsized boats and left at least 17 missing on Thursday, Reuters reported. The slow movement of Mekunu will cause wind and rain to continue across the island into Friday, with lessening impacts throughout the day.As improvement is seen across Socotra, western Oman and far eastern Yemen will see increasing wind and rainfall into Friday.There is a brief window for Mekunu to peak in intensity as an extremely severe cyclonic storm, which would produce winds equal to a Category 3 hurricane in the Atlantic or East Pacific OceanWhile some minor weakening is possible as the cyclone approaches the coast, it will still be a very dangerous storm.Locations from Sayhut in eastern Yemen to Ash Shuwaymiyyah in western Oman are at risk for significant impacts from this cyclone.Areas near and just east of the eventual landfall location will endure a prolonged period of damaging winds and heavy rainfall capable of producing flash flooding and mudslides.Landfall is currently expected somewhere between Salalah and the border of Oman and Yemen between Friday evening and Saturday morning.Muscat is forecast to miss any impacts from this cyclone; however, a shift in the track to the east could result in an increased risk for a shower or thunderstorm.Preparations should be made in advance of the cyclone’s arrival to limit the risk to lives and property.Important decisions to make include: Where one should go if evacuations are ordered, and how to deal without having electricity for several days.Check back to AccuWeather for additional updates on this dangerous tropical threat.
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