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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 22 November 2018

Two dead in Yemen after flash floods hit east

The governor of Al-Mahrah declared the province a disaster area and appealed for help

People walking through flood water as they evacuate a flooded area during a cyclone in the Yemeni island of Socotra in May. Luban is the second cyclone to strike Yemen this year. AFP
People walking through flood water as they evacuate a flooded area during a cyclone in the Yemeni island of Socotra in May. Luban is the second cyclone to strike Yemen this year. AFP

Two people have died and 15 are missing after tropical storm Luban caused flash floods and landslides in the eastern province of Al Mahrah, Governor Shiekh Rajeh Bakureit told The National on Tuesday.

Governor Bakureit on Monday called on the Arab-led coalition and Yemeni government to send helicopters to rescue 50 families trapped on the roofs of their homes.

"We are not able to rescue them without air support, the situation goes beyond our capacity, so we urgently send an appeal to the Arab coalition and the government to provide us with helicopters to evacuate the families being stuck amid floodwater", the governor said.

Cyclone Luban weakened into a "deep depression" as it made landfall in eastern Yemen on Sunday, bringing heavy rain and strong winds to large parts of Mahrah province on Sunday.

While the initial evening did not cause significant damage, overnight rainfall led to the flooding that stranded families in their buildings - thousands have been evacuated.

Essa Al Kumairi, Al Mahrah governor's secretary tells The National that the situation in the province is catastrophic.

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"Our province is a disaster area, more than 50 families are still stuck on the tops of buildings in Al Masilah area and hundreds of buildings collapsed, which caused more than 100 injuries among the residents," Mr Al Kumairi said. "Four people are lost, we don’t know whether they are still alive or if they were drowned or swept away by the floods."

"Heavy rains stopped for a while and then resumed more heavily which caused lots of damage to the infrastructure in the disaster-hit province - the electricity, the telecommunications network have been all cut because of the heavy rains and the strong winds as well as the huge torrents which have been overflowing in the province,” Mr Al Kumairi.

The officials said the floodwater had effectively cut the district off from the rest of the province. The nearby Al Oubari area of Al Masilah province was also badly hit. Hundreds of people are stuck in their houses and rescue teams are struggling to reach them. “Heavy rain which made it impossible to approach the stuck people," Mr Al Kumairi explained.

He said that more than 3,000 families had been evacuated to safety and were staying in local schools, mosques and community buildings away from the affected areas. “We send a humanitarian appeal for the coalition, the government and international organisations to help the families affected as soon as possible,” Mr Al Kumairi said. “The situation is really catastrophic.”

Over the weekend, UN humanitarian coordinator for Yemen Lise Grande said aid agencies had been sending medical supplies and emergency survival kits to Mukalla and Hadramawt. Emergency shelters were assigned and mobile teams kept on standby to help families forced to flee their homes.