Two dead as Cyclone Mekunu hits southern Oman

Two dead as Cyclone Mekunu hits southern Oman

Oman - Follow the latest updates on Cyclone Mekenu here.



By Web Report/AP

Published: Sat 26 May 2018, 11:36 AM

Last updated: Sat 26 May 2018, 9:23 PM

Latest Update:

The Royal Oman Police confirmed the death of another citizen due to the cyclone. The police has urged residents to stay indoors and not to risk their lives.
 
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Cyclone Mekunu has hit Dhofar region of Oman and is moving is moving west-by-north-west. According to the Times of Oman, a statement from the Public Authority for Civil Aviation's meteorology department said that the cyclone was moving towards the coastal area of Dhofar. 
"The latest weather satellite imageries of the National Multi Hazard and Early Warning Centre show the centre of the cyclone passing by coastal area of Dhofar in the area between Raysut and Raykhut."
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- ???? ??????? (@Storm_centre) May 26, 2018
 
following up #CyclonicStormMekunu path updates in the #ArabianSea Saturday 26/5/2018 #mekunu
As predicted by the NCM the tropical Storm is descending from the second category to a tropical cyclone of the first category and no opportunities for direct impact on the UAE pic.twitter.com/2K0bDqScSv
- ?????? ?????? ??????? (@NCMS_media) May 25, 2018
 
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Cyclone Mekunu dumped heavy rain and bent palm trees in Oman, a sign of the approaching storm's power after earlier thrashing the Yemeni island of Socotra.
Already at least 40 people, including Yemenis, Indians and Sudanese, were reported missing on Socotra, where flash floods washed away thousands of animals and cut power lines on the isle in the Arabian Sea. Officials feared some may be dead while authorities in Oman confirmed the first death in the cyclone.
Cyclone Mekunu will not reach UAE, says Met office
The cyclone is expected to make landfall early Saturday near Salalah, Oman's third-largest city and home to some 200,000 people close to the sultanate's border with war-ravaged Yemen.
Conditions quickly deteriorated in Salalah after sunrise Friday, with winds and rain beginning to pick up. Strong waves smashed into empty tourist beaches. Many holidaymakers fled the storm Thursday night before Salalah International Airport closed. The Port of Salalah - a key gateway for the country - also closed, its cranes secured against the pounding rain 
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- ???? ????? ????????? (@RoyalOmanPolice) May 24, 2018
 
Streets quickly emptied across the city. Standing water covered roads and caused at least one car to hydroplane and flip over.
Later, a municipal worker on a massive loader used its bucket to tear into a road median to drain a flooded street, showing how desperate the situation could become.
Omani forecasters warned Salalah and the surrounding area would get at least 200 millimeters (7.87 inches) of rain, over twice the amount of rain this city typically gets in a year. Authorities remained worried about flash flooding in the area's valleys and potential mudslides down its nearby cloud-shrouded mountains.
Many officers rode in Royal Oman Police SUVs with chicken wire over the windows, likely because their other vehicles weren't tall enough to maneuver through the flood water.
"Of course, for the citizen there is going to be a sense of fear of the consequences that can happen," said Brig. Gen. Mohsin bin Ahmed al-Abri, the commander of Dhofar governorate's police. "We have been through a few similar cases and there were losses in properties and also in human life as well. But one has to take precautions and work on that basis."
The Royal Oman Police later said on Twitter that a 12-year-old girl died after winds from the cyclone caused her to collide with a wall.
As torrential rains poured down, local authorities opened schools to shelter those whose homes are at risk.
India's Meteorological Department said the storm packed maximum sustained winds of 170-180 kph (105 to 111 mph), gusting up to 200 kph (124 mph). They described the cyclone as "extremely severe."
"Salalah is expected to experience maximum wind and maximum rainfall and also the maximum storm surge," said Mrutyunjay Mohapatra of the department.
On Socotra, authorities relocated over 230 families to sturdier buildings and other areas, including those more inland and in the island's mountains, Yemeni security officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to reporters.
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- ????? ???????? (@nccdoman) May 25, 2018
 
Flash floods engulfed Socotra streets, cutting electricity and communication lines, they said. At least 40 people were missing, they added. Some humanitarian aid from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates arrived on the island just hours after the cyclone receded.
The officials said heavy rains pummeled Yemen's easternmost province of al-Mahra, along the nation's border with Oman.
Socotra Gov. Ramzy Mahrous said one ship sank and two others ran aground in the storm, initially saying authorities believed 17 people were missing.
"We consider them dead," the governor said.
Yemen's self-exiled President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi issued a statement ordering troops under his command on the island to help citizens, deliver supplies and reopen roads.
The island, listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, has been the focus of a dispute between the UAE and Yemen's internationally recognized government amid that country's war after Shiite rebels, known as Houthis, seized the Yemeni capital, Sanaa 
Socotra has a unique ecosystem and is home to rare plants, snails and reptiles that can be found nowhere else on the planet. It is known for its flower-and-fruit bearing dragon blood tree, which resembles an umbrella and gets its name from the dark red sap it secretes.
A cyclone is the same as a hurricane or a typhoon; their names only change because of their location. Hurricanes are spawned east of the international date line. Typhoons develop west of the line and are known as cyclones in the Indian Ocean and Australia.
Powerful cyclones are rare in Oman. Over a roughly 100-year period ending in 1996, only 17 recorded cyclones struck  the region. In 2007, Cyclone Gonu tore through Oman and later even reached Iran, causing $4 billion in damage in Oman alone and killing over 70 people across the Mideast.
The last hurricane-strength storm to strike within 160 kilometers (100 miles) of Salalah came in May 1959, according to the U. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's archives. However, that cyclone was categorized as a Category 1 hurricane, meaning it only had winds of up to 152 kph (95 mph). 
Mekunu, which means "mullet" in Dhivehi, the language spoken in the Maldives, is on track to potentially be the same strength as a Category 2 hurricane at landfall. It also comes just days after Cyclone Sagar struck Somalia.
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11:50pm

Oman Civil Defence issued a warning regarding the rising water levels in one of the dams in the state of Salalah. They also advised residents to stay indoors and stay updated through official channels regarding the cyclone.
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- ????? ???????? (@nccdoman) May 25, 2018
 
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- ????? ???????? (@nccdoman) May 25, 2018

10:15pm

Some neighbourhoods are now exposed to the sea as result of rising levels of water.
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- ??? ????? - ???????? (@ArabiaWeatherSA) May 25, 2018
 

9:10pm

In a statement shared on their official Facebook page, the Embassy of India in Muscat said that two ships from the Indian Navy - INS Deepak and INS Kochi have sailed from Mumbai yesterday. The ships contain humanitarian aid material as well as helicopters equipped for rescue operations. The embassy said that the ships are ready to assist at Salalah.

8:29pm

According to the Royal Oman Police, a 12-year-old girl succumbed to injuries she sustained after a wall collapsed due to strong winds caused by Cyclone Mekunu.
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- ???? ????? ????????? (@RoyalOmanPolice) May 25, 2018
 

7:15pm

Oman Civil Defense say that there is no truth regarding the news of a girl dying in the state of Salalah due to the cyclone. Residents are advised to be wary of such fake stories circulating online.
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- ????? ???????? (@nccdoman) May 25, 2018
 

6:27pm

Residents living in the low-lying areas and the valleys are advised to evacuate. Wadis may overflow and cause flooding around these parts. Due to the inclement weather conditions, Oman Civil Defense is keeping their hotline open 24/7 until conditions improve.
The National Committee for Civil Defence appeals to citizens and residents to evacuate the low laying coastal areas, valleys and other places they may be vulnerable to water drift.#Mekunu #Mekunu_Cyclone pic.twitter.com/dAIiFSMgMs
- ????? ???????? (@nccdoman) May 25, 2018
 
Due to extreme weather conditions forecast, Ministry of Health @OmaniMOH announce activating the call center 24/7 until the end of the weather conditions 24441999 pic.twitter.com/Yl3GH0R0qm
- ????? ???????? (@nccdoman) May 25, 2018
 
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??????: @WeatherOman

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- ??? ????? - ???????? (@ArabiaWeatherSA) May 25, 2018
 
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- ??? ????? - ???????? (@ArabiaWeatherSA) May 25, 2018
 

6:10pm

The most recent update on Cyclone Mekunu indicates that the most dangerous period will be from 4pm till 12am midnight on May 24, as issued by Oman's National Committee for Civil Defence:
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- ????? ???????? (@nccdoman) May 25, 2018
 
The authority urged all people to exercise caution and remain indoors over the remaining 6 hours of the roughest weather conditions.
They Public Authority for Civil Aviation also issued its 6th warning, urging the public to exercise the greatest caution regarding wadis and flash floods, and avoid the sea. 
??Warning 6 #Mukono #ArabianSea #???????_??????_????????_????? #?????_?????#???_????? #??????#????_?????? pic.twitter.com/xEHZdfm0Ih
- ?????? ?????? ???????? ?????? (@PACAOMAN) May 25, 2018
 

4:30pm

The Public Authority for Civil Aviation issued a statement extending the 24 hour shut down of Salalah Airport.
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- ?????? ?????? ???????? ?????? (@PACAOMAN) May 25, 2018
 
The statement reads, "Due to the severity of the damage to the Dhofar governorate, Salalah International Airport will remain closed for an additional 24 hours on Saturday, May 26."
@PACAOMAN extends the shutdown of airtraffic movement in Salalah airport on Saturday for another 24 hours due to the impact of the Tropical Cyclone #Mekunu in Dhofar governorate #Mekunu #ArabianSea#???????_??????_???????? #???_????? #??????#????_?????? pic.twitter.com/1RLpLN1Gdq
- ?????? ?????? ???????? ?????? (@PACAOMAN) May 25, 2018
 
The Oman Meteorology Authority  also published a 3D cross-section of the cloud band affecting the Dhofar governeroate at different layers of the atmosphere:
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3D Vertical cross section for the clouds band affecting Dhofar governorate at different layers of the atmosphere
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#Mekunu pic.twitter.com/KN1KjosLgW
- ??????? ???????? (@OmanMeteorology) May 25, 2018
 

12:55pm

According to the Ministry of Endowments and Religious Affairs in the Sultanate of Oman, the Directorate General of Endowments and Religious Affairs in the Governorate of Dhofar issued a statement that there will be no Friday prayers held due to the severity of the weather conditions affecting the area. 
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- Sumaya (@Too74045776) May 25, 2018
 
"All mosques will be closed until further notice," the release added. 

12:30pm

The latest updates from the Oman Metereological Authority indicate that the storm has been upgraded to a Category 2, reaching wind speeds of up to 167km/hr.
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Latest observations show that tropical cyclone #Mekunu has intensified to
Cat 2 with wind speed ranging between 80 to 85 Kt
- ??????? ???????? (@OmanMeteorology) May 25, 2018
 
The Public Authority for Civil Aviation issued its fifth warning in less than 24 hours at 12pm local time, indicating the storm's centre was less than 150km from Salalah. 
Rainfall is expected to reach between 20 and 60cm which may lead to flooding, with waves reaching between 8 and 12 metres in height. 
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- ?????? ?????? ???????? ?????? (@PACAOMAN) May 25, 2018
 

11:45am

The cyclone is expected to make landfall early Saturday near Salalah, Oman's third-largest city and home to some 200,000 people near the sultanate's border with war-ravaged Yemen. 
Conditions quickly deteriorated in Salalah after sunrise Friday, with winds and rain beginning to pick up. Strong waves smashed into empty tourist beaches. Many holidaymakers fled the storm Thursday night before Salalah International Airport closed. 
India's Meteorological Department said the storm in the Arabian Sea was packing maximum sustained winds of 160-170 kilometers (99-106 miles) per hour, with gusts of up to 180 kph (112 mph). 
On Socotra, Gov. Ramzy Mahrous said one ship sank and two others ran aground in the storm. The storm sent torrents of rain pouring through homes and streets, leaving residents soaking wet and trying to wade to safety. 
He said of the 17 missing: "We consider them dead." 
Yemen's self-exiled President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi in a statement ordered troops under his command on the island to help citizens, deliver supplies and reopen roads.
The island, listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, has been the focus of a dispute between the United Arab Emirates and Yemen's internationally recognized government amid that country's war after Shiite rebels, known as Houthis, seized the Yemeni capital, Sanaa. 
Saudi troops recently deployed on Socotra as a confidence-building measure over complaints by Yemen's government that the UAE deployed troops there without its permission. 
Socotra has a unique ecosystem and is home to rare plants, snails and reptiles that can be found nowhere else on the planet. It is known for its flower-and-fruit bearing dragon blood tree, which resembles an umbrella and gets its name from the dark red sap it secretes. 
Salalah, the hometown of Oman's longtime ruler, Sultan Qaboos bin Said, already began sandbagging low-lying doors and warning residents not to go into valleys for fears of flashing flooding. 
Oman sent rescue helicopters to remote villages in its Dhofar governorate to evacuate those who could be impacted by flooding or mudslides. It also evacuated the critically ill from Sultan Qaboos Hospital in Salalah, flying them north to Muscat, the country's capital. 
The port of Salalah, crucial to Qatar amid a boycott by four Arab nations over a diplomatic spat with Doha, said it also had taken precautions and secured cranes ahead of the cyclone. 
Seasonal rains are nothing unusual for southern Oman this time of year. While the rest of the Arabian Peninsula bakes in areas where temperatures near 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit), those in the sleepy port city of Salalah enjoy rainy weather that sees fog and cool air wrap around its lush mountainsides. Temperatures drop down around 25 degrees Celsius (77 degrees Fahrenheit) during its annual monsoon festival. 
Powerful cyclones, however, are rare. Over a roughly 100-year period ending in 1996, only 17 recorded cyclones struck Oman. In 2007, Cyclone Gonu tore through the sultanate and later even reached Iran, causing $4 billion in damage in Oman alone and killing over 70 people across the Mideast. 
The last hurricane-strength storm to strike within 160 kilometers (100 miles) of Salalah came in May 1959, according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's archives. However, that cyclone was categorized as a Category 1 hurricane, meaning it only had winds of up to 152 kph (95 mph).
A cyclone is the same as a hurricane or a typhoon; their names only change because of their location. Hurricanes are spawned east of the international date line. Typhoons develop west of the line and are known as cyclones in the Indian Ocean and Australia.
Mekunu, which means "mullet" in Dhivehi, the language spoken in the Maldives, is on track to potentially be the same strength as a Category 2 hurricane at landfall. It also comes just days after Cyclone Sagar struck Somalia. 
Oman's Public Authority for Civil Aviation has just issued a release indicating that due to the severity of the weather conditions, Salalah International Airport will be closed for 24 hours, starting from 12am on Friday, May 25.
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- ?????? ?????? ???????? ?????? (@PACAOMAN) May 24, 2018
 
 
The Embassy of the United Arab Emirates in Muscat has also issued an advisory to its citizens in Oman. "Citizens are urged to take precautions and stay away from all shoreline and valley areas. Remain alert for all changing weather conditions and follow the safety instructions pending the landfall of the cyclone. Register for the Tawajudi service and contact the embassy for all alerts."
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- UAE EMBASSY - MUSCAT (@embassymct) May 24, 2018
 
The tropical cyclone continues to edge in a northwesterly direction from the Arabian Sea, now at a distance of 440km from the coast.
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Latest update about the Tropical System in Arabian Sea#????? #???_????? pic.twitter.com/ArB44YgPVj
- ??????? ???????? (@OmanMeteorology) May 24, 2018
 
According to a release issued by Oman's Public Authority for Civil Aviation (PACA) and published on their twitter handle, the cyclone could potentially reach a category two storm level in the next 12 hours.  
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- ?????? ?????? ???????? ?????? (@PACAOMAN) May 24, 2018

Hospital evacuation

Sultan Qaboos Hospital in Salalah is evacuating all patients under its care, with critical cases and dialysis patients being transferred by the Royal Air Force, the Ministry of Health announced.
"The Directorate of the General Directorate of Health Services in the province of Kifar announced that based on the climatic predictions of the tropical situation of Mekunu, Sultan Qaboos Hospital will be evacuated from two locations and transfer all critical cases and all patients with renal dialysis, in cooperation with the Royal Air Force of Oman," the ministry said in a statement online.
#???? / ???? ???????? ?????? ??????? ?????? ??????? #???? ?? ????? #??????_???????_????? ?? #????? ?? ???? ?????? ???? ??????? ?????? ???????? ?? #????_????_????????_??????? ??? ??????? ??????#?????_????? #?????? #???_?????_2018 pic.twitter.com/H6sUvjwiBU
- ????? ????? - ????? (@OmaniMOH) May 24, 2018
 
The release continued: "Patients in stable condition and who were admitted for deliveries were being transferred to the Armed Forces Hospital in Salalah, while emergency cases will be transferred to the Cardiac Surgery Center in Salalah."
The ministry also posted images of patients being evacuated on its Twitter handle. 
Transporting critical cases & patients needing dialysis from Sultan Qaboos Hospital in Salalah in preparation to airlift them to Muscat in collaboration with Royal Air Force of Oman (RAFO) pic.twitter.com/JI5M8pX71Q
- ????? ????? - ????? (@OmaniMOH) May 24, 2018
 
#happeningnow
From Royal Air Force of Oman Airport in Salalah, Critical cases and kidney dialysis patients are being airlifted to #Muscat#?????? #????_?????? #???_?????_2018 pic.twitter.com/GNdxCc5odi
- ????? ????? - ????? (@OmaniMOH) May 24, 2018
With inputs from AP.
 


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