Powerful cyclone kills three in Yemeni island

Tropical cyclone hurricane hits Yemeni island of Socotra, killing three people and wounding dozens

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Image of powerful cyclone formed in the Arabian Sea and approaching Yemen at an intensified speed

Officials on Monday said that a rare tropical hurricane killed three and left many injured people in Yemen's Socotra island and headed for a Al Qaeda run town on the mainland.

Videos and pictures on social media showed lashing rain through the streets of Hadibu, the provincial capital of Socotra.

A local official said that "three people were killed, around 100 have been injured," without stating the exact cause of death.

According to Mohammed Alarqbi of the Socotra Environment Office, heavy rains battered emaciated coastal villages.

"Around 1,500 families have fled to the interior and to the mountains. There's absolutely no help coming from the outside," he said.

The storm named Chapala, brewed in the Arabian Sea, and later intensified to the equivalent of a powerful category 4 hurricane in the previous days with gusts of 260km/h, according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center in Hawaii.

Last Saturday, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) had stated that the area where cyclone Chapala could cause landfall is sparsely populated.

Oman’s State Meteorological Agency warned residents for the possibility of torrential rains, thunderstorms and floods that were expected to begin on October 31. The agency called for residents to avoid low-lying areas and crossing rivers during the storm.  

According to authorities,  the storm is supposed to lash mainland on Tuesday close to the port of Mukalla where Al Qaeda and their tribal council has been controlling the area since the government forces retreated in April.

One of the residents, Muhammed Ba Zuhair said that "the sea water level has risen by 9 metres [30 feet] and has destroyed Mukalla's seafront." "Many people have left there homes and are seeking refuge in schools. No relief or aid efforts are under way by either the tribal council or Al Qaeda, and the situation is really bad."

In 2007, a similar storm, Cyclone Gonu, hit Oman’s capital Muscat killing at least 50 people and causing $5 billion in damage. Salalah, another city of Oman, lies in the path of Cyclone Chapala.

TRTWorld and agencies