Cyclone Mekunu prompts evacuation of hundreds of Indians in Oman, volunteer groups offer assistance

Hundreds of Indians have been evacuated from low-lying areas in Oman, where cyclone Mekunu was expected to make a landfall.

Rejimon K May 25, 2018 18:01:16 IST

Video by NewsCart/Bader al Baddei

Hundreds of Indians have been evacuated from low-lying areas in Oman, where cyclone Mekunu was expected to make landfall.

A global forecast announced the cyclone was likely to hit Salalah — a southern Omani town bordering Yemen — at around 1 pm (2: 30 pm IST) on Friday. Salalah is home to around 80,000 Indians.

“Indians from the low-lying areas have been moved to schools and other shelters,” Manpreet Singh, the Indian consular agent in Salalah told Firstpost.

“We have urged people to move to apartments in high areas. We have arranged them free of cost for the people,” Singh added.

At around 11 am (IST), Oman's meteorology department tweeted that the extremely severe cyclone has intensified into a Category 2 storm.

“Wave heights are expected to rise up to 12 metres,” the Oman meteorology said in a special bulletin.

Cyclone Mekunu prompts evacuation of hundreds of Indians in Oman volunteer groups offer assistance

An inundated street due to the cyclone. Image credit. Bader al Baddei

Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Risk (TSR) centre reported at 1 am (2.30 am IST) on Friday that Cyclone Mekunu will hit the coast with winds up to 85 kts (98 miles per hour).

“Mekunu is a category 2 storm on the Saffir Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale,” the Tropical Storm Risk centre said. A Category 2 storm is accompanied by strong destructive winds with typical gusts attaining a speed of 125-164 kilometres per hour.

An Indian medical professional in Salalah said that patients have been evacuated from the Sultan Qaboos Hospital, the biggest in the city, and other hospitals, and that police and rescue teams have been kept on alert. Shibu S, an Indian accountant in Salalah, said he has moved to Muscat, around 1,500 kilometres from Salalah.

The Omani government has declared government and private schools shut for the next few days. Salalah airport remained closed since Thursday. Residents from low-lying areas in the city are being evacuated to nearby schools on police vehicles.

“The coastal road in the region of Dahrez in the Governorate of Dhofar and the coastal road in the Governorate of Al Wusta are being closed for traffic,” the Royal Oman Police (ROP) announced online. “The roads have been closed due to a rise in sea level,” said an ROP official, adding that they will be patrolling the affected areas the moment Mekunu hits Oman.

Many Indian volunteer groups have come forward to lend help.

In 2007, the northern part of Oman was hit by a similar cyclone named Gonu.

Considered one of the worst natural disasters in Oman’s history, Gonu caused 50 deaths and about $4.2 billion in damages. In Iran, Gonu killed 28 people and caused damages worth $216 million.

Emergency Tel Numbers:-
Add 00968 before all numbers
Civil Defence dhofar 23234599
Civil Defence sadha 23234975
Civil defence salalah 23290077
Civil Defence Awqad 23212146
Civil Defence Raysut 23219131
Civil Defence Mirbat 23268594
Civil Defence Thaka 23258077
Water Emergency 1445
Water Emergency 23290052
Electricity Emergency 154
Electricity Emergency 23219188
Amulance Awqad 99479463
Sultan Qaboos Hospital 23216100
Police Station Salalah 23290099
Police Station Sadha 23234170
Airport Salalah 23295747
Indian volunteer numbers
Sainudheen 99490108
Sabeer 92822648
Sabukhan 95445348
Abdullah 95851425
Rashid 92653948
Sameer 97080566
Mustafa 94052178
Sidiq 99484599

The author is a member of The NewsCart, a Bengaluru-based media organisation.

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