Cyclone slams Yemeni island, kills three

A view of tropical cyclone Chapala in the Arabian Sea, seen from the International Space Station last Saturday.
A view of tropical cyclone Chapala in the Arabian Sea, seen from the International Space Station last Saturday.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

ADEN (Yemen) • Rare tropical cyclone Chapala, packing hurricane-force winds, has lashed the Yemeni island of Socotra, killing three people, as it headed for an Al-Qaeda-controlled town on the mainland.

Amateur pictures and videos on social media showed torrents of water washing through the streets of provincial capital Hadibu.

"Three people were killed, around 100 have been injured and hundreds of families were forced to leave their homes in coastal regions for the mountains," said a local official yesterday.

Situated in the Arabian Sea, isolated Socotra is home to hundreds of exotic plant species found nowhere else on earth. The 50,000 residents speak a language of their own.

It is also cut off politically from mainland Yemen by a seven-month war there between Iran-allied fighters and a coalition of Arab states led by Saudi Arabia, with the result that its impoverished residents are not likely to receive prompt aid.

The US Navy's Joint Typhoon Warning Centre said cyclone Chapala had reached maximum gusts of 240km, equivalent to a category 4 hurricane.

The centre projected the cyclone would make landfall on the mainland just west of the restive port city of Mukalla, run by a tribal council and Al-Qaeda militants since the army withdrew in April.

BBC News said up to 500mm of rain is predicted - almost 10 times the normal annual rainfall .

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 03, 2015, with the headline 'Cyclone slams Yemeni island, kills three'. Print Edition | Subscribe