UAE, Saudi Arabia on alert after Cyclone Shaheen hits Oman

Cyclone Shaheen slammed into Oman on Sunday with ferocious winds and heavy rain, flooding streets, prompting evacuations from coastal areas and suspending some flights to and from the capital Muscat.

Flooding in the Omani capital Muscat as the Shaheen tropical storm hits the country. [Mohammed Mahjoub/AFP]

Authorities in the United Arab Emirates have said precautionary measures are being taken and Saudi Arabia has called for caution in several regions after 12 people were killed as tropical Cyclone Shaheen made landfall in neighbouring Oman.

Police in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Monday were patrolling near beaches and valleys where torrential rains were expected to ensure the residents’ safety.

Government and private-sector employees in al-Ain, on the border with Oman, were urged to work remotely on Monday and authorities called on residents to avoid leaving home except for emergencies, the Abu Dhabi Government Media Office said.

“Authorities are working proactively around the clock to evaluate residential units in expected affected areas and transport families to safe locations until it is safe to return,” it said.

Saudi Arabia’s civil defence authorities called for caution in several regions from Monday to Friday in expectation of high winds and possible flooding, the state news agency reported.

A man wades through a flooded street in Oman’s capital Muscat [Haitham Al-Shukairi/AFP]

Cyclone Shaheen slammed into Oman on Sunday with ferocious winds and heavy rain, flooding streets, prompting evacuations from coastal areas and suspending some flights to and from the capital Muscat.

Omani state television broadcast images of flooded roadways and valleys as the storm churned deeper into the sultanate, its outer edges reaching the neighbouring United Arab Emirates.

When its eye crossed land, the cyclone was carrying winds of between 120 and 150 km/h (75 to 93 mph), Omani authorities said. It was throwing up waves of up to 10 metres (32 feet).

Video footage from Omani broadcasters showed vehicles submerged as people tried to make their way through muddy brown floodwater.

Up to 500cm (20 inches) of rain was expected in some areas, raising the risk of flash floods.

The country’s National Committee for Emergency Management announced on Monday afternoon seven additional deaths from the storm, bringing the total death toll to 12.

In Iran, state television said rescuers found the body of one of five fishermen who went missing off Pasabandar, a fishing village near the Islamic Republic’s border with Pakistan.

Earlier on Sunday, Iranian deputy parliament speaker Ali Nikzad said he feared as many as six fishermen had been killed because of the cyclone.

India’s Meteorological Department, the top forecasters for cyclones that sweep across the Indian Ocean, said winds from Shaheen now gust up to 90 kph (55 mph) and would continue to weaken.

It predicted the storm would weaken into a tropical depression in the coming hours. Shaheen made landfall with winds reaching up to 150 kph (93 mph).

 

 

Oman’s national emergency committee said the power supply would be cut in al-Qurm, east of the capital, to avoid accidents. Aid agencies transferred more than 2,700 people to emergency shelters.

Most of the oil-exporting country’s five million people live in and around Muscat. Authorities said roads in the capital would be open only to vehicles on emergency and humanitarian work until the storm dies down.

A wooden ship sank at Sultan Qaboos Port and its crew was rescued, the National Committee for Emergency Management said on Twitter.

Cars are abandoned on a flooded street as Shaheen makes landfall in Muscat [Sultan Al Hassani/Reuters]
Source: News Agencies

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