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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 16 November 2018

Yemenis running out of water after tropical storm disrupts supplies

More than 2,000 families in the east have been significantly affected by storm, says UN

Waves crash on the shore of the southern city of Salalah on October 12, 2018, as Cyclone Luban approaches on southern parts of Oman. AFP
Waves crash on the shore of the southern city of Salalah on October 12, 2018, as Cyclone Luban approaches on southern parts of Oman. AFP

A tropical storm has battered eastern Yemen damaging major water facilities and cutting supplies to Al Ghaydah, the capital of Al Mahrah governorate.

Deputy Director of Water and Sanitation Corporation Eng. said the facilities and the generators used to run them had been "completely overwhelmed by floods".

Al Mahrah governor has declared the coastal districts a disaster area and the Minister of Local Administration has called on the UN and humanitarian organisations to assist and coordinate response with the local administration.

"The residents of Al Ghaydah still get drinking water from what was reserved in their own tanks at home but it is going to run out in the few coming hours, then a massive humanitarian crisis will appear," Essa Al Kumairi, a spokesman for the local administration told The National.

Ninety per cent of the electricity grid in Al Ghaydah district and in some of the smaller towns along the coast is down and in need of repair.

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Read more:

Two dead in Yemen after flash floods hit east

Oman braces for the devastation of cyclone Luban

Roads to nowhere, early Khareef and riverbed highways: Salalah's dramatic post-Cyclone landscape

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Mr Al Kumairi called on the Arab Coalition, the Yemeni government and international aid organisations to fix the damages caused by the storm, which formed as cyclone Luban but has been downgraded to a tropical storm.

At least three people have been killed and 33 injured, local authorities have said.

UNOCHA said more than 2,000 families in Al Mahrah had been significantly affected by the flooding, with many finding emergency shelter in public buildings. It warned there were expected to be more casualties and homes washed away in areas that had yet to be reached by emergency teams.

Rescue operations were ongoing on Wednesday to evacuate families stranded in the areas of Al Masilah, Sayhut and Qishn. An aid convoy sent by the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre is due to arrive in the worst-hit regions.

Two aircraft, one Yemeni and the other from the United Arab Emirates, are ferrying to safety residents stranded in Al Ghaydah. Yemeni officials earlier called for help to evacuate some 50 families stuck amid flooding and heavy rain in the area, describing the situation as "disastrous."

The storm is expected to intensify on Wednesday afternoon. Al Mahrah province in the far east of Yemen and the neighbouring Dhofar region of Oman are the only parts of the Arabian Peninsula that have a monsoon climate governed by the tropical weather systems of the Indian Ocean.

In May, Cyclone Mekunu smashed into southern Oman and the Yemeni island of Socotra, killing at least 11.

Residents of Al Mahrah and Socotra have long complained of being left to fend for themselves as President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi's government focuses on the war against Houthi rebels, who have controlled the capital Sanaa and much of the north since 2014, and against ISIS-affiliates who have a major presence in neighbouring Hadramawt province.