Muscat/Dubai: 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.
"Mina Al Fahal was closed for a while during mid-day but it has now reopened and the situation is stable."
- Staff Report
|Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale|
Sustained Winds (km/h)
Unanchored mobile homes,
vegetation and signs.
All mobile homes, roofs,
small crafts, flooding.
Small buildings, low-lying
roads cut off.
Roofs destroyed, trees
down, roads cut off, mobile homes
destroyed. Beach homes flooded.
More than 250
destroyed. Vegetation destroyed.
Major roads cut off. Homes flooded.
|Source: Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), USA|
Thank you for your excellent coverage and up to date information about the cyclone. We are logged to your newspaper website and are able to get all the latest information. I think your coverage is the best in the whole region.
We are praying for Oman and extend our fullest support to best of our extent. If required, UAE government can launch a public fund to support Omani people and we, as their residents, assure our government to our suppport. I also thanks UAE government to extend their support to their neighbours.
This is completely unheard of. I just pray such events do not happen in the Gulf.
I think the people of UAE should take extra precaution like stock up on food and candles. board their windows.Fill their cars with gas. Fill lots of buckets with water.get drinking water.
I really appreciate the UAE arrangments and a special help for thier neighbour country.
This is so unbelievable and proof of global warming as this is my first time to hear typhoon/cyclone in the middle east in near summer!
I had been living in UAE for about 15 years, but moved to Canada last year. It's really amazing to see how things have drastically changed in past time.I hope the weather settles down and the hurricane doesnt cause much destruction.