Cyclone Shaheen approaches Oman

Residents urged to evacuate coastal areas and authorities delay flights to and from the capital Muscat.

Tropical Cyclone Shaheen bore down on Oman on Sunday prompting authorities to suspend flights to and from the capital Muscat and urge residents to evacuate coastal areas.

Two Asian workers were killed in a landslide that hit their housing area in an industrial zone as a result of the cyclone. A child who was swept away by storm surges was found dead, the state news agency said, and another person was missing.

The eye of the storm was approaching with top winds of about 139km/h (86 mph).

The cyclone is expected to “directly impact north Al-Batinah, Al Dhahira, Al Buraimi and Al Dakhliya”, a statement by the country’s weather agency said.

According to Al Jazeera’s weather specialist Jeff Harrington, one of the biggest threats the cyclone poses is that in Oman’s desert climate the “ground is bone dry, so it can’t absorb the rain”.

“The second part is this is a mountainous area, so that means the rain falls high above and it gushes so the combination of both of these would lead to the risk of high flooding,” said Harrington.

The storm’s centre was expected to hit between 6pm and 10pm (14:00-18:00 GMT), bringing extremely high winds and heavy rainfall, but the outer bands of the system are already being felt.

The national emergency committee said the power supply would be cut in al-Qurm, east of the capital, to avoid accidents. More than 2,700 people were put up in emergency shelters.

Most of the oil-exporting country’s five million people live in and around Muscat. Roads in the capital would be open only to vehicles on emergency and humanitarian journeys until the storm dies down, authorities said.

The country also declared a two-day national holiday on Sunday and Monday, shuttering schools, “due to the adverse climate conditions”, the state news agency reported.

The neighbouring United Arab Emirates also warned those on its eastern reaches to be prepared for the storm.


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