World

SALALAH – A powerful storm has killed at least three and left thousands other helpless as it lashed the southern coast of Oman on Saturday.

A man and a 12-year-old girl were killed, while three Asian nationals were missing after the cyclone Mekunu hit Oman’s Dhofar and Al-Wusta provinces, the GulfNews reported.

Police in the Middle Eastern country reported that the man died after floods swept him away with his car near Salalah, Oman’s second-largest city, while the girl died when a gust of wind smashed her into a wall.

Earlier, the Mekunu wreaked havoc in Yemen´s Socotra island killing at least seven people, as it headed northwest to Saudi Arabia, Oman´s Directorate of Meteorology said.

It is expected to hit parts of the Empty Quarter, one of the world’s most arid deserts, later Saturday.

The meteorology department said the latest weather charts and satellite imageries indicate that Mekunu’s intensity has dropped to “a deep depression”.

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).

Mekunu had intensified to a category two cyclone as it hit Dhofar and Al-Wusta on the Arabian Sea on Friday, battering the coast with torrential rains, strong winds and massive waves.

Oman´s civil aviation meanwhile decided to reopen  Salalah Airport on Sunday, which had been closed for the past three days. Authorities said however that schools would remain closed until Monday.

In 2007, Cyclone Gonu tore through Oman, killing at least 49 people and causing damage estimated at $3.9 billion (3.3 billion euros).