Rare cyclone approaching Yemen picks up speed

UN weather agency says rapidly intensifying Cyclone Chapala could cause flooding and mudslides.

Tropical Cyclone Nilofar moves through the Arabian Sea toward a landfall in northwestern India in this NASA Aqua satellite image
The forecast rainfall would represent an extremely unusual event for the area, WMO said [NASA/Reuters]

A rare and intensifying cyclone called Chapala formed in the Arabian Sea has hit the Yemeni island of Socotra, killing at least one person and injuring nine others, local officials have said.

Officials said the cyclone seriously damaged or destroyed at least 20 homes on the island, where trees have been uprooted and fishing boats sank.

They said many residents are taking shelter in caves and schools as heavy rains, strong winds and rising waves caused severe flooding in the island.

About 9,000 people have been transported from their homes to safer areas by authorities, said Socotra Deputy Governor Ramzi Mahfouz.

The plight of those facing the disaster has been compounded by a shortage of fuel on the island that the island has faced over the last 20 days, he added.

Mohammed Salmein, a resident of the island, said they have not seen such strong winds and rain in decades.

“We are expecting a true disaster to befall us,” he said.

Socotra’s island is situated in the Indian Ocean, about 368km off the coast of Yemen’s mainland. It is known for its unique vegetation and ecosystems, including rare dragon blood trees.

The cyclone was also expected to later batter Yemen’s mainland, where it may dump more than a year’s worth of rainfall, the UN weather agency said on Friday.

The Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System forecasts the storm will make landfall in Yemen around midday on Tuesday, following earlier estimates that it would hit the mainland on Monday.

Source: Al Jazeera