Yemen hurricane: Tropical cyclone Chapala batters Mukalla, thousands flee homes

Officials and meteorologists say the storm is the most intense in decades in Yemen.

Updated: November 3, 2015 5:30 pm
yemen, yemen cyclone, chapala, chapala cyclone, chapala cyclone update, chapala storm, yemen cyclone chapala, yemen news, cyclone chapala news, world news Tropical Cyclone Chapala batters Mukalla, Yemen, on Monday, Nov. 2, 2015. (AP Photo)

A cyclone with hurricane-force winds made landfall on Yemen’s Arabian Sea coast on Tuesday, flooding the country’s fifth-largest city Mukalla and sending thousands of people fleeing for shelter.

Officials and meteorologists say the storm is the most intense in decades in the arid country, whose storm response is hampered by poverty and a raging civil war.

In the provincial capital Mukalla, whose 300,000 people are largely ruled by al Qaeda fighters since the army withdrew in April, water submerged cars on city streets and caused dozens of families to flee to a hospital for fear of rock slides.

Residents said the seafront promenade and many homes had been destroyed by the cyclone, called Chapala, and officials in the dry hinterland province of Shabwa said about 6,000 people had moved to higher ground.

“The wind knocked out power completely in the city and people were terrified. Some residents had to leave their homes and escape to higher areas where flooding was less; it was a difficult night but it passed off peacefully,” said Sabri Saleem, who lives in Mukalla.

There were no initial reports of injuries.

yemen, yemen cyclone, chapala, chapala cyclone, chapala cyclone update, chapala storm, yemen cyclone chapala, yemen news, cyclone chapala news, world news This satellite image captured by NASA on Saturday, Oct. 30, 2015 shows Tropical Cyclone Chapala located approximately 209 nautical miles east northeast of Socotra Island, Yemen. (NASA via AP)

An al Qaeda militant on Twitter prayed for deliverance from the storm and said that a US pilotless drone was flying especially low over the city, where the militant group’s deputy leader was killed in an air strike in June.

“May God cause it to crash,” said the man, going by the name of Laith al-Mukalla.

“God spare us your wrath, and place the rains in heart of the valleys and mountains.”

The cyclone first hit the remote Yemeni island of Socotra, killing three people and displacing thousands.

An island of natural beauty, Socotra is home to hundreds of plant species found nowhere else on Earth and lies 380 km (238 miles) off Yemen in the Arabian Sea. Its 50,000 residents speak their own language.

Meteorological agencies predicted Chapala would hit land around Balhaf, site of Yemen’s liquefied natural gas terminal, and weakening as it advanced towards the capital Sanaa in the country’s north.

The facility has been mostly shuttered since the start of a war in March between a Saudi-led Arab military coalition and the Iran-allied Houthi movement which controls Sanaa.

It was not immediately clear if the terminal, once a lifeline for Yemen’s weak economy, suffered damage.

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  1. K
    kushal kumar
    Nov 4, 2015 at 8:56 am
    This writer’s prediction about danger from strong storms or sea tsunamis in vulnerable areas near some islands to come in October – November 2015 was published in article – Total lunar eclipse of 28 September 2015 and world – in the Summer 2015 ( June) issue of The Astrologer’s Notebook , a quarterly publication from North Port , Florida. Just reproducing the related parts from the article : -“During second half of 2015 , among other things , dangers from sea or in sea like strong storms or sea tsunamis could be likely in vulnerable regions. Power dams and electricity could bring to surface substantial concern. Natural calamities such as floods , landslides and earthquake could sadden.” The prediction further goes in the same article : “ Some islands located near the sea may need to take some precaution .Though second half of 2015 seems to be causing concern , months October and November of 2015 are likely to trigger many unwelcome things out of above mentioned aspects or areas of life”. These predictions published in the month of June 2015 to happen in November 2015 have come precisely accurate in the case of cyclone lashed in Yemen and categorized as rare. These unique contributions aimed to help the affected deserve to be noted .
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