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Muscat: Cyclone Ashobaa is expected to make landfall in the South Sharqiyah governorate early Thursday morning. Satellite images indicate that the cyclone is moving towards South Sharqiyah between Ras Al Had and Masirah Island in the coming hours.

The General Directorate of Meteorology said on Wednesday evening that Ashobaa was approximately 220km from South Sharqiyah’s coast, with heavy rainfall and strong winds expected in both the north and southern parts of the governorate, Muscat, Dhakliyah and South Batinah governorates.

The cyclone has a maximum windspeed of around 82km/h while the speed around the eye is estimated at around 37km/h.

Rough seas are expected in the coming hours, characterised by swells of up to seven metres. The Public Authority for Civil Aviation has advised nationals and residents to stay away from wadis and the sea during the storm while Al Nahda hospital in Muscat has evacuated all of its patients to Khoulah hospital as a precautionary measure. Last year, at least 95 patients were evacuated when the hospital flooded due to heavy rainfall.

Some areas in South Sharqiyah experienced light rainfall on Wednesday while elevated sea levels saw a coastal road in Tiwi hit by flooding, forcing it to close.

The Ministry of Education has postponed all secondary school exams to next week, as a number of schools nationwide will act as makeshift shelters for residents affected by the storm. Some colleges in Muscat announced they will be closed on Thursday.

The Ministry of Social Development has designated a number of relief areas around various parts of Muscat while the Muscat Municipality says its fully prepared for the storm and has already set up an emergency plan and a 24-hour call centre to accommodate residents’ needs.

Residents and nationals rushed to stock up on food items on Wednesday, fearing a shortage of food and water due to the storm.

Musalam Al Hooti, a Muscat resident, told Gulf News that he bought enough food and water for his family.

“When the Cyclone Gonu struck Oman in 2007, we did not have enough food and water and we were trapped in the house for more than two days,” he said.

Grocery stores and petrol stations have been experiencing chaotic queues as people rush to stock up on essentials.

An official at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry assured Gulf News that there was enough food and fuel to meet the needs of the people in the coming days.

As a precautionary measure to avoid flooding, Omani authorities have emptied water from the Wadi Diqah dam, the biggest in Oman.

At least 70 people were killed by Cyclone Gonu in June 2007 and Phet in June 2010.