Muscat: Oman's civil defence has mobilised 7,000 personnel to handle any emergency situation in the aftermath of tropical cyclone Gonu making landfall on the eastern coast.
The category 5.5 cyclone Gonu is expected to hit the coast near Masirah Island by tomorrow night or early morning on Thursday. Masirah's population is estimated at 7,000.
"A contingency plan has been drawn up to meet any disaster," said Inspector General of Police and Customs Lt. General Malek Bin Sulaiman Al Ma'amari, who is also the Chairman of the National Committee for Civil Defence (NCCD).
"The topical storm has been named Gonu and it is at the moment 700km off Masirah Island," Ahmad Al Harthi, Director at the Department of Meteorology, told Gulf News yesterday on the sidelines of a meeting of the NCCD at the Royal Oman Police headquarters.
"The category for Gonu has been upgraded to 5.5 from 4.5," he said.
According to data supplied by the US Navy and Air Force Joint Typhoon Warning, Gonu could whip up maximum sustained winds in the region of 185 km/h for a minute.
"We expect the wind to be anything above 70-80 knots per hours," Al Harthi predicted and said that the tidal waves could rise up to ten metres high.
He also pointed out that the country could receive over 150mm of rain in the 24 hours during the storm.
Predicting heavy destruction expected to be caused by the rain accompanying the tropical storm, Al Harthi said: "The rains will be damaging."
"We have had a similar storm hitting Masirah Island in 1977 when 400mm of rain fell in 24 hours," he recalled. The worst, he said, was in 1890 when a tropical storm claimed nearly 700 lives.
Al Harthi said the storm would continue to move north-west after hitting Oman and could reach a neighbouring country.
"The current location of the storm is latitude 18.5 degrees north and 65 degrees east," he said.
Talking about the contingency plans, a member of the NCCD, Lt. Col Azhar Al Kindy told Gulf News: "The Army is on standby and 7,000 personnel from reserve forces, police academy and other backup are on guard to swing into action in the aftermath of the storm."
Regarding distribution of rescue work, he said: "A 'work order' has been distributed to undersecretaries from 17 ministries (who are members of NCCD)."
"We are ready to respond to any emergency with the Air Force, and ROP air wing in all preparedness," he said.
Warning: Storm packs winds of up to 185km/h
- Fishermen have been advised to stay off sea for the next five to six days.
- Tropical storm Gonu is expected to unleash a fury of wind, wave and rain in most parts of Oman from Ras Al Medraka in south to Ras Al Hadd in the east and then move north-west towards the UAE.
- Gonu has been upgraded to a 5.5 category cyclone and is expected to pack winds of speed up to 185km/h.
- An awareness campaign through media and SMS is being launched to warn residents in the country.
- Tidal waves to could cause damage on the coastal areas.
- Oman government has put in place contingency plans to meet any eventuality.
- Trees, small and old buildings and hoardings could be uprooted by the storm.