Tropical cyclone kills two, displaces 10,000 in Yemen

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A tropical cyclone has killed at least two people in war-torn Yemen and displaced around 10,000 others, authorities said, after floods destroyed buildings and cut off major roads.

Tropical cyclone TEJ made a landfall over the coast of Al Mahra governorate, in the country’s southeast, late on Monday and continued to churn northwest. Telecommunications are down, badly hampering rescue efforts.

“Initial reports indicate that two deaths have been recorded, as well as 150 injuries... and the displacement of about 10,000 people from the districts of Al-Ghaydah and Haswain,” the official Saba news agency reported on Tuesday.

The storm has flooded roads, submerged cars and forced Yemen Red Crescent volunteers in Al Mahra to temporarily suspend operations.

It cut off telecom lines and sent hundreds of families into shelters and schools, said Brigadier General Hakeem al-Mutairi from the army’s Al Mahra division.

“Today, the winds and rains have calmed down, but roads and communications are still cut off,” he told AFP.

Following more rainfall late on Tuesday, the storm is expected to weaken and dissipate.

The University of Notre Dame’s Global Adaptation Initiative ranks Yemen as one of the region’s most climate-vulnerable countries.

In recent years, Yemen has seen an increase in the frequency and intensity of rainfall due to climate change acting on atmospheric circulation in the Indian Ocean.

“Warnings were issued two weeks ago by meteorological centers but we did not take them seriously,” said Jumaan bin Qahtan, a resident of Al Mahra’s Sayhut district.

The Arabian Peninsula’s poorest country has been hit by six cyclones in the past six years, up from four in the preceding 25 years, according to a May report by the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Norwegian Red Cross.

The country, already grappling with a devastating eight-year-long conflict, also experienced heavy flooding in 2019, 2020 and 2021, the report said.

In July, a severe storm in southern Yemen blew out the glass facade of a key airport, injuring six passengers, damaging planes and forcing airlines to cancel two flights.

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