Southern Yemen prepares for cyclone Gonu [Archives:2007/1057/Front Page]

June 7 2007

Amel Al-Ariqi
AL-MAHRAH, June 6 – Precautions have been declared for Thursday in Yemen's Al-Mahrah governorate. Emergency units have been alerted, as well as deploying several emergency units and civil defense teams to meet the emergency situation due to the expected cyclone that hit Oman.

However, Al-Mahrah resident Omer Abu-Bakr says, “The situation here is normal. As usual at this time of year, the weather is hot and dusty and there's been no sign of the storm up until now.”

He confirmed that local authorities in the governorate's six provinces – Hawf, Al-Khidha, Hasrin, Kashen, Sahit and Al-Masila – have warned fishermen and residents to avoid the coast during these days. “The authorities already have evacuated some citizens living on the coast to ensure their safety,” he added.

The local council is cooperating with the Civil Defense's Disaster Management Authority and the National Center for Meteorology to handle the situation in Al-Mahrah and Hadramout governorates, Disaster Management Authority director Mohammed Shaban said.

The National Center for Meteorology affirms that it has recorded no sign of cyclone Gonu on Yemeni beaches yet, only rough seas and high waves.

According to a source at the center, “The situation in Yemeni territorial waters is near stable, with the exception of high seas and strong winds due to the cyclone's initial effects.”

The center is calling on all fishermen and commercial fishing vessels to be cautious and take care in the rapid pace of strong winds and high waves, noting that it will continue to monitor cyclone Gonu's movement and progress around the clock.

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Cyclone Gonu hit Oman's central coast with strong winds and rain early Wednesday, after thousands of residents fled to higher ground. Forecasters said the Arabian Peninsula's strongest storm in 60 years was on a course for southern Iran and the oil-rich Persian Gulf.

According to Omani Civil Defense officials, Gonu's cyclone-force winds churned northwest through the Indian Ocean, with rains drenching the Omani capital of Muscat and surrounding communities.

Analysts warn that it could disrupt shipping in the Straits of Hormuz, causing a spike in oil prices. According to the Associated Press, oil prices rose on Monday but retreated Tuesday, although the storm weighed heavily on the market.

Even with weaker wind speeds, Gonu is expected to be the strongest cyclone to hit the Arabian Peninsula since record keeping began in 1945.