Cyclone Mekunu leaves at least two dead in Yemen
UAE heads disaster relief operation in Yemeni island of Socotra
The United Arab Emirates in collaboration with Saudi Arabia are leading extensive relief operations to assist thousands in the disaster-hit island of Socotra, Yemen, following the damage caused by Cyclone Mekunu.
Yemeni security officials say rescuers have recovered two bodies, while there are more than 30 people still missing.
The officials said on Saturday that four Indians were rescued from a ship that ran aground during the storm, and that another two Yemenis were found alive. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief reporters.
The powerful storm blew into the Arabian Peninsula early on Saturday, drenching arid Oman and Yemen with rain, cutting off power lines.
At least two people, a 12-year-old girl and a man, died in Oman. Yemenis, Indians and Sudanese were among those missing on the Arabian Sea isle and officials feared some may be dead.
The Embassy of India in Muscat said that two ships from the Indian Navy had sailed from Mumbai laden with aid for Oman.
Flash floods engulfed Socotra streets, cutting electricity and communication lines. Humanitarian aid from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates arrived on the island just hours after the cyclone receded.
"Khalifa bin Zayed foundation along with the ERC [Emirates Red Crescent] are all present on the ground in Socotra to lead the relief operations" said the UAE ambassador to Yemen Salem Al Ghoufaily.
"The hospital of Khalifa bin Zayed in Socotra is fully equipped to receive those who need medical treatment either sick or injuries, moreover, shelters were allocated for the homeless families, meanwhile the power supply generators were maintained and operated in large swathes of the Island, additionally food meals and winter clothes were distributed for the families at homes and at the shelters" Mr Al-Ghoufaily tweeted.
The ERC and the Khalifa bin Zayed foundation have been working to clear the roads that had been obstructed by flash floods.
"A team of the ERC led a big effort to re-open the blocked roads, they succeeded in re-opening the main route that links Hadibou with the airport and the other areas" Rafat Ali a human activist from Socotra told The National.
"We have seen the UAE envoy to Socotra Khalfan Fadhel driving a truck himself, trying to rescue those who found themselves besieged by the floods just few hours as the heavy rain calmed down last Wednesday," he said.
"We were so lucky to have brothers such the Emiratis to stand by us in such critical times," added Mr Ali.
Part of Saad Ali's house collapsed under the weight of the torrential rain, as he desperately tried to find shelter for his family. He set out under the downpour, in search of help.
"I saw a group of men with big trucks helping other neighbours, their homes damaged like mine," he explained. "I realised later they were from the ERC. I appealed to them to help so they rushed to my house to evacuate us to a school," Mr Saad told The National.
In the crowded school the displaced citizens of Socotra were given food and water supplies, mattresses and blankets, clothing and a generator.
Activist Salem Abdulrahman said the ERC had been present from the onset of the extreme weather. "They worked on finding shelter for the homeless people and headed to repair the power supply," said Mr Abdulrahman.
The Indian Meteorological Department reported winds of 160-170 kilometres per hour, with gusts of up to 180kph in the Arabian Sea.