25 confirmed dead in Oman
Twenty five people have died due to killer cyclone Gonu and 26 are missing, according to the latest update provided by the Royal Oman Police Public Relations department. The updates provided to government-owned Oman News Agency confirmed late in the evening that 25 persons of different nationalities were found dead at various places in the country while 26 were still unaccounted for. The statement was issued to the government-owned Oman News Agency and to the Oman television.
Meanwhile, the Muscat Municipality Chairman, Abdullah Bin Abbas confessed that the city was extremely difficult times to the devastation caused by the deadly cyclone Gonu. “We are doing our best to restore the city life back to pre Gonu days,” he said in a written statement yesterday. Most roads and bridges are extensively damaged in the city that has turned into a mini lake due water logging in most parts.
Hundreds of flooded families relocated
The UAE's primary humanitarian organisation assisted in the evacuation of around 500 people from Kalba which bore the brunt of cyclone Gonu yesterday, initially relocating them to schools in the area. The UAE Red Crescent Authority (RCA) continued its humanitarian efforts yesterday, in line with instructions issued by Shaikh Hamdan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and RCA Chairman. "We opened five schools, with around 30 families in each school," said RCA"s manager in Fujairah, Suhail Al Qadi, speaking via telephone from Kalba. "Those affected, including elderly people, women and children, were evacuated after the sea rose to their homes, particularly in Suhaila."
Skyscrapers in Dubai face no risk
High-rise buildings under construction in Dubai face no risk of being damaged by cyclone Gonu, and managers say that all construction sites are secure and able to cope with the severe weather.
Burj Dubai, the tallest structure in the Middle East and Europe that currently is more than 120 storeys and 422.5 metres high, is capable of withstanding any adverse weather.
"We are monitoring the path of the cyclone, and have good satellite images of where it is passing through so we will know in advance when it is heading our way," said Dr Andy Davids, Director of Structures, Burj Dubai Tower.
It is not uncommon for construction at Burj Dubai to halt for short periods of time, according to Davids. He said a monitoring device is installed atop the tower to gauge wind speeds.
Tropical storm Gonu lashes UAE's east coast
Hundreds of people living on the UAE's east coast were evacuated from their homes yesterday as Cyclone Gonu brought heavy winds and flooding.
Evacuations in Fujairah
Huge tides and increasingly high waves are battering the east coast of UAE even as panic and curiosity spread among the residents.
Authorities have ordered the evacuation of residents in some areas of Fujairah and Kalba, laying on buses to move people into temporary refuge centres at a number of local schools.
The main route in and out of the east coast town of Kalba has been shut down and residents, in areas close to the advancing sea water, have been ordered to evacuate their homes.
The continuous surge of seawater is threatening to overwhelm homes and government buildings, especially in the area of Al Nighelat, despite the barriers of sand erected to halt the storm tide
Cyclone Gonu weakening
Cyclone Gonu smashed into the coast of Oman in the early hours of Wednesday morning, knocking out power lines and cutting off the eastern region of the country.
However the storm - which has just hit Muscat - is weakening and has been downgraded to a Category One cyclone according to the US military's Joint Typhoon Warning Center said. Gonu hit land in Oman at around 3am, bringing with it torrential rain and high winds. Electricity and telephones lines were cut off as a result of the storm, but power has been restored in some areas.
There is thought to have been extensive damage to property but so far no fatalities have been reported.
Oil and gas terminals in the country will remain closed for a second day because of the poor weather, according to media reports.
In Iran, authorities evacuated hundreds of people living in the port city of Chabahr on the coast of the Sea of Oman, believed to be next in the cyclone's path.Azhar Al Kindi, a member of Oman's National Committee for Civil Defence, said the government was working to restore power to the region. He added: “There is extensive damage to properties in most towns in the eastern region including Sur and Ras Al Hadd. “There is a great impact but the magnitude of the damage is not known yet. All our police stations are on high alert but so far there has not been any reported injuries, missing persons or fatalities since last night.” Al Kindi added that the “early warning and transparency” about the storm had allowed residents to arm themselves about the full magnitude of the approaching storm and take appropriate steps.
Gulf States on Gonu alert
Cyclone Gonu skirted the coast of Oman last night as the UAE authorities told residents here not to panic and weather experts said the storm appeared to be weakening and moving north through a major shipping channel towards Iran.
President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan last night made a telephone call to Sultan Qaboos Bin Saeed of Oman to inquire about the latest developments regarding the cyclone. He affirmed the UAE's full support for Oman and its readiness to provide all assistance to cope with the situation and its aftermath, WAM reported.
Under the directives of Shaikh Khalifa and His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai and follow up from General Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, the Ministry of Interior, in coordination with the Armed Forces and health ministry have made all arrangements in case Gonu hits the UAE, Lieutenant General Shaikh Saif Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Interior said.
Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid also instructed that the highest precautionary measures be taken. He asked Shaikh Saif to head a task force consisting of department heads of Civil Defence, the Health Ministry and emergency and rescue teams. Shaikh Saif was also asked to set up field hospitals with the cooperation of the Health Ministry and provide logistical support and cooperation to Oman if it asks for assistance. A 1,053-man team of rescue staff and a fleet of nine ambulance helicopters are on alert, Shaikh Saif said.
However, the US military's Joint Typhoon Warning Centre said the storm had weakened to maximum sustained winds of 105 mph, making it a Category Two hurricane, Reuters reported. The centre of the storm was now expected to hit land in southeastern Iran, possibly disrupting shipping through the Gulf, a major oil export route.
Earlier yesterday, heavy waves lashed parts of Oman and rain drenched the east coast Omani town of Sur. Gonu had been expected to sweep north along the coast of Oman, damaging energy facilities and property. Thousands of people were evacuated from Masirah Island off the east coast.
Dr Mohammad Saeed Al Kindi, UAE Minister of Environment and Water, said although the UAE faced the risk of heavy rainfall and strong winds, people should stay calm.
"We urge the UAE Coastguard, seaport workers, Civil Defence and fishermen to remain vigilant, but there is no reason to panic," he said, adding that fishermen were advised not to go to sea.
Oman’s weather officials said that the centre of cyclone Gonu will hit the eastern coast of the country on Wednesday morning and that it remained a category five storm.
Speaking to Gulf News, Ahmed Al Harthy, Director at the Department of Meteorology Department said: “The speed of the cyclone has accelerated and is expected to land at the east coast after 1am (Wednesday).” He added that the tropical cyclonic storm was just 100km from Oman’s turtle nesting site at Ras Al Hadd and moving at 14kmh. The cyclone is heading towards Muscat along the coast. “We expect Gonu’s impact over Muscat at around 4pm on Wednesday,” he said. Dr Kamal Bhatt, a Senior Specialist Surgeon at the Sur Hospital in the east said that the impact of cyclone was being felt from late evening.
“Strong wind and heavy rain started coming down by 7pm and we also struggled to catch television signals even as the intensity of wind kept increasing,” he said.
The Royal Oman Police (ROP) last night issued a statement urging residents to stay indoors for the next two to three days or until the impact of cyclone recedes. “We have lifted the alert level to maximum,” a statement from ROP said last night.
“The wind speed will range between 212 to 260 km/h and waves could rise up to 25 metres on the east coast,” warned the ROP statement.
All ports in the country were closed and larger ships were ordered off to anchorage to avoid any possible damage to berths during high waves.
Oman’s oil and gas producing companies also briefly shut operations with Oman LNG in Sur shutting their operations until cyclone passes while Petroleum Development Oman suspended all loadings at their Mina Al Fahal facility in Muscat.
Omifco in Sur also shut their operations and sent all staff home.
Meanwhile, ROP said in a statement that they rescued 16 Bangladeshi nationals from sea in the east and took them to Al Ashkaraa town.
DP World's port operations not affected, says official
Tropical cyclone Gonu has not affected DP World's port operations, says a company spokesperson. "We are closely monitoring the situation and so far we don't expect the storm to impact our operations," the spokesperson said. DP World, the third largest port operator in the world, operates 42 ports in 22 countries, including four in the UAE.
Oman's only oil export terminal has reopened after a brief closure due to the cyclone in the Arabian Sea yesterday and an oil ministry official said it was business as usual for refining and drilling operations.
Fujairah hit by Cyclone Gonu
Fujairah/Kalba: Crowds of onlookers, curious to see the spectacle of sea waters swallowing-up huge chunks of the Fujairah beach, gathered to take photos and exchange cyclone anecdotes. Mohammad Ali Sultan, a Fujairah resident said the whole situation reminds him of the Indonesia tsunami. He said: “It’s just like the Tsunami, as water is pushing on slowly from the shore, but it is just beginning, soon it will reach the houses on the other side of the road from the beach”. Ali Mohammad Khamees, from Dibba, said: “It first people were told it was just rumours and the cyclone is not going to affect us, but then people started to see the strong waves and the situation change”.
Cyclone reaches Omani coast
Cyclone reaches Omani coast
A weather service official told Oman state television Tropical Cyclone Gonu, which earlier reached the equivalent of a maximum-force Category Five hurricane, was expected to be worse than a destructive one that hit the island in 1977.
As winds of up to 260 kmh and waves as high as 12 metres battered Oman's eastern coast, the state news agency forecast thunder storms and heavy rainfall in the oil producing country. The weather service offical expected floods.
"It's quite common to have heavy rains at this time of year in Oman," said a Western executive based in Muscat.
"But this weather is quite unusual and they're calling it the worst in Oman's modern history."
A shipping agent told Reuters Oman's Sur export terminal, which handles 10 million tonnes per year of liquefied natural gas exports had been closed because of the storm and the Mina al Fahal oil terminal, that ships all Oman's 650,000 barrels per day of oil exports, was likely to shut soon,
The Sultan Qaboos port, which handles vehicles and containers, was also closed, another shipping source said.
A shipping agent for the UAE said on Monday no warning had been issued there. Operations at the port of Fujairah were continuing as normal.
A Dubai-based shipping agent also said no official warning had been sent to his company.
Oman's civil defence has mobilised 7,000 personnel to handle any emergency situation in the aftermath of Gonu making landfall on the eastern coast.
After passing Oman, it expects the storm to head toward Iran across the Gulf of Oman, a major shipping channel for Gulf crude oil exports.Brigadier Dr. Jamal Al Marri, Deputy Director of the Crisis and Disaster Management Committee, told Gulf News, "There are teams working on following up various developments and the areas to which the cyclone is expected to reach."
He said the preliminary precautionary procedures have already begun to cover the precautionary side of it.
"There is a direct follow up for various developments on the cyclone, its directions, speed and what will accompany it. The follow up has been going on for the last three days. The primary information we have imply that it will not affect the normal life," he said.
However, he said with the cyclone nearing the Eastern areas, especially south Oman, the things have taken a different way regarding preparedness.
A spokesperson from Dubai Civil Defence told Gulf News, "We have increased preparedness level and we are constantly following up the issue
Tropical Cyclone Gonu will not affect the UAE and people need not to panic, a top UAE official said."While we urge the UAE Coast Guard personnel, Seaport workers, the Civil Defence, Fishermen and other sea goers to remain vigilant, there is no reason to panic as the UAE will not be affected by the cyclone", said Dr. Mohammad Saeed Al Kindi, Minister of Environment and Water.Quoting reports from the UAE's Metrological office, Al Kindi said some considerable amount of cloud, driven by active winds, may cause rains on highlands in the Eastern and Northern parts of the UAE. "On the basis of the information provided by the Central Operations Centre of the UAE Coast Guards, heavy rainfall and strong winds might prevail.
Abu Dhabi on alert over cyclone
Abu Dhabi authorities are preparing for a full state of emergency due to the hurricane travelling across the coast of Oman. “All officers will be on call 24 hours until the hurricane passes and we are out of danger,” a source told Gulf News. Meanwhile some residents, residing in the Northern emirates like Al Fujairah, Dibba and Kalba are considering moving to Dubai away from the coastal area until the hurricane subsides. Mohamed Ali, a Fujairah resident said: “Water has reached the streets and I am considering moving my family to Dubai away from the sea.” Another Fujairah resident said that authorities have closed down the road leading to his house. “Water from the sea has reached the road and is slowly increasing. I have no way of getting to my house in Mirbh”