Powerful cyclone strikes Oman, Yemen; 5 dead, 30 missing

Cyclone tears through Yemeni island Socotra

Cyclone Mekunu pummels Yemeni island, seven missing

It warned however that heavy rain and strong winds of about 60 kilometers (37 miles) an hour would continue to pummel Dhofar and Al-Wusta provinces, while sea conditions were rough with high tides reaching eight meters (yards).

The Yemeni island of Socotra has been pounded by Cyclone Mekunu, which is on a path to strike Oman this weekend.

Tourists rushed to catch the last flights out before Salalah International Airport closed at midnight Thursday for the storm, where sandbags already stacked against some doors.

According to an Al Jazeera report, there are high chances of the storm gathering energy, and becoming a Category 3 system before it makes landfall especially "with sea surface temperatures in that region of the Arabian Sea between 31 and 32 degrees Celsius, and low wind shear (a change of wind speed and direction with height)".

Portions of Salalah, home to some 200,000 people, lost power as the cyclone made landfall.

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Fisheries Minister Fahad Kafin said rescue attempts had saved four people from one of the sunken boats, while floodwater was responsible for sweeping away vehicles.

Socotra governor Ramzy Mahrous said one ship sank and two others ran aground as the cyclone hit on Thursday, initially saying authorities believed 17 people were missing and presumed dead.

Yemeni officials also reported damage in the country's far east, along the border with Oman. Some cars were left abandoned on the road.

The rain caused widespread flooding across the usually arid sultanate, turning normally dry wadis turbid, flooding streets and homes and causing a number of fatalities.

A 12-year old girl died as a gust of wind sent her smashing into a wall.

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The Port of Salalah, a key gateway for the country, is also closed with its cranes secured against the pounding rain.

He added that Cyclone Mekunu has slowed down and that it is no longer categorized as a hurricane but an orbital storm.

On Socotra, authorities relocated over 230 families to sturdier buildings and other areas, including those more inland and in the island's mountains, Yemeni security officials said. The cyclone was severe on Friday night.

Largely untouched by Yemen's three-year-old war, it is under the control of the internationally recognized government whose president, Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, is in exile in Saudi Arabia.

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