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Elham AbolFateh

Middle East

Cyclone Mekunu pummels Yemeni island، 17 missing

Friday 25/May/2018 - 10:26 AM
Sada El Balad
Seventeen people were missing and hundreds of others evacuated from their homes Thursday after Cyclone Mekunu hit the Yemeni island of Socotra، causing severe flooding and damage، officials said.

The missing people had been in two boats that sunk and three vehicles swept away by floods، said Ramzy Mahrous، governor of Socotra، an island paradise 350 kilometres (220 miles) off Yemen in the Arabian Sea.

Yemen's internationally recognised central government early Thursday declared Socotra a "disaster province" and Mahrous said it could not handle relief efforts on its own، with the number of missing expected to rise.

"The coastal areas were submerged by floods causing heavy damage to homes،" with more than 10 villages in Socotra's south and east cut off، Mahrous told AFP.

Four people on one of the sunken boats were rescued while three of the missing had vehicles swept away by flooding، Fisheries Minister Fahad Kafin told AFP.

Around 150 families were evacuated to government facilities after downpours flooded houses and streets، trapping people in their homes، he said.

Some residents carrying children tried to escape through the flooded streets، an AFP correspondent said.

Authorities called on humanitarian organisations and the Saudi-led military coalition that is battling Huthi rebels in the country to help، according to Yemen's state-run news agency Saba.

"Socotra is a disaster province due to human and material damage at all levels and requires urgent aid،" said Rajeh Badi، a spokesman for Yemen's internationally recognised government.

President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi called Socotra's governor and promised to aid rescue efforts.

Yemeni relief officials called on international aid agencies to "send medical teams urgently" to Socotra and other areas in southern Yemen expected to be hit by the cyclone.

Millions of Yemenis are living in dire conditions as a result of a long-running civil conflict، which since 2015 has pitted a Saudi-led coalition against the Iran-backed Huthi rebels.

But Socotra has been spared involvement in the violence، which has claimed nearly 10،000 lives since March 2015 and triggered what the United Nations has called the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

In November 2015، Socotra and south Yemen were hit by cyclone Chapala which injured more than 200 people.

Edited by rehab sayed

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