AFP: Cyclone Chapala was approaching war-torn Yemen on Monday after wreaking havoc on Socotra island and injuring hundreds of people there, as fears of its impact on Oman eased, officials said.
Strong winds hit southeast Yemen and high waves flooded the seafronts of al Qaeda-held Mukalla and Shehr in Hadramawt province, as well as the Belhaf gas terminal in Shabwa province, officials and residents said.
“The cyclone is approaching Mukalla and we fear a disaster,” one official at the provincial capital said, requesting anonymity.
“Families have evacuated coastal areas and residents are organising themselves and helping each other to deal with the cyclone,” he added.
The city has been mostly controlled by militants of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula since April.
On Socotra, “more than 200 people were injured and dozens of houses and hamlets were either heavily damaged by water or washed away by waves”, said Salem Zaher, mayor of the island’s main district Hadibo.
Socotra is less than 250 kilometres (150 miles) from the Horn of Africa and 350 kilometres off the Yemeni mainland.
It has 50,000 inhabitants, mostly fishermen.
The UN’s weather agency said on Friday that Chapala, a “super cyclonic storm”, was expected to make landfall at around midnight on Monday in both Yemen and Oman.
But on Monday it said on its Twitter account that “Category 2 Chapala expected to weaken to Category 1″ as it nears Yemen and Oman, but with intense rain.
Omani authorities reduced the state of alert on Monday, saying the cyclone has moved westward towards Yemen and will have no direct effect on the sultanate.
However, Oman’s meteorological authority warned that waves as high as three metres (10 feet) were still expected to hit the shores of the Dhofar and Al-Wusta provinces on Monday and Tuesday.