2nd freak cyclone pounds Yemeni island

This Nov 9, 2015 Nasa satellite photograph shows Tropical Cyclone Megh in the Gulf of Aden.
This Nov 9, 2015 Nasa satellite photograph shows Tropical Cyclone Megh in the Gulf of Aden. PHOTO: AFP

DUBAI • A second extremely rare and powerful cyclone in two weeks has battered the Yemeni island of Socotra with hurricane-force winds, killing a woman and causing around 5,000 people to flee their homes, a local official said.

The new storm, called Megh, hit on Sunday, less than a week after Cyclone Chapala killed 11 Yemenis on Socotra and the mainland, dumping nearly a decade of average annual rainfall in just two days.

"A woman in her 40s died when her home collapsed on her, and four others were wounded... Cyclone Megh is several times worse than Chapala because it is passing directly over Socotra," said Mr Mohammed Alarqbi of the Socotra Environment Office.

A larger number of homes have been destroyed and 5,000 people have fled the north of the island to schools, universities and hospitals, he added. Socotra is home to 50,000 residents, long isolated from the mainland.

Cyclone Megh is expected to hit Yemen's coast east of Aden as a severe cyclonic storm this afternoon with winds of 90 kmh to 120 kmh, according to the World Meteorological Organisation.

Aid efforts in Yemen are hampered by a seven-month war between a Shi'ite militia based in the capital Sanaa and forces loyal to the exiled government backed by Gulf Arab states.

The United Nations humanitarian coordination office said more than 230,000 people on Yemen's mainland would be exposed to high winds and heavy rainfall.

Aid efforts in Yemen are hampered by a seven-month war between a Shi'ite militia based in the capital Sanaa and forces loyal to the exiled government backed by Gulf Arab states. But planes have flown in with food and tents from Oman, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia .

The freak back-to-back storms are caused by the "Indian Ocean dipole", a weather phenomenon similar to a regional El Nino, caused when surface sea temperatures are higher than normal.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 10, 2015, with the headline '2nd freak cyclone pounds Yemeni island'. Print Edition | Subscribe