Death toll rises after rare cyclone on Yemeni island

A damaged house is pictured in a village deserted after Cyclone Megh struck it on Yemen's Socotra island. (Reuters)

Cyclone Megh has killed 14 people on war-ravaged Yemen’s Socotra island, the second rare tropical storm to hit the Arabian Peninsula country in days, officials said.

A statement said Megh caused “14 deaths including two women and two children, and injured dozens of people”.

A previous toll from the storm hitting Socotra put the death toll at six.

The Arabian Sea island is located 350 kilometres (210 miles) off the Yemeni mainland.

The UN’s humanitarian agency OCHA said Megh appeared to be getting weaker as it made landfall early Tuesday on the Yemeni mainland.

“A thousand houses collapsed and some 2,000 others were damaged” on Socotra, and hundreds of fishing boats were damaged and many livestock animals killed, officials said.

Heavy rain and strong winds also took Socotra’s port out of service and caused extensive damage to the island’s roads, 80 percent of which became impassable.

Around 800 residents of a small island near Socotra were evacuated to the neighbouring province of Hadramawt on the mainland, a rights activist told AFP.

Cyclone Megh caused panic and prompted appeals for help for residents on Socotra, already badly battered by last week’s cyclone Chapala.

Fisheries Minister Fahd Kavieen, who is from Socotra, urged the United Nations and neighbouring Oman on Sunday to “urgently intervene with emergency teams to save residents” on the island “which is now facing a cyclone stronger than Chapala”.

World Meteorological Organization spokeswoman Clare Nullis said Friday that tropical cyclones are extremely rare over the Arabian Peninsula, and two back-to-back was “an absolutely extraordinary event”.

Chapala killed eight people in southeastern Hadramawt province.

OCHA said Tuesday that Gulf monarchies had sent at least 17 planeloads of humanitarian aide to Socotra in the wake of the storms.

Yemen has been riven by conflict since Iran-backed rebels seized control of the capital Sanaa in September last year and later advanced into other areas.

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:46 - GMT 06:46