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Cyclone Expected to Trigger Destructive Rainfall in Yemen

Tropical Cyclone Chapala batters Mukalla, Yemen, Nov. 2, 2015.
Tropical Cyclone Chapala batters Mukalla, Yemen, Nov. 2, 2015.

A rare cyclone slammed into southeastern Yemen, bringing with it strong winds, heavy flooding and causing massive damage in the country's fifth largest city.

Cyclone Chapala made landfall Tuesday in the al-Qaida controlled town of Muklalla, packing winds of up to 130 kilometers an hour.

The World Meteorological Organization warns torrential rains expected to follow Cyclone Chapala in Yemen will have a severe and destructive impact.

Chapala, a rare tropical cyclone with a wind speed of up to 130 kilometers an hour, made landfall Tuesday on Yemen’s southern coast.

Residents say the storm submerged cars, knocked out power and caused many residents to flee their homes.

No reports of injuries were reported.

The World Meteorological Organization [WMO] reports the cyclone weakened rapidly as it moved westward, because of rugged terrain and dry air.

Spokeswoman Claire Nullis said the WMO fears the destructive power of the storm's rains.

“There have been various reports, you know, that Yemen could get the equivalent of six years, the equivalent of 10 years, of rainfall. It is very difficult to actually quantify it. I think, the main point to underline is that Yemen is normally a very arid area. It does not have the infrastructure to cope. So we really do expect this cyclone to have a very significant impact.”

Nullis said it is not possible to forecast the intensity or duration of the rains because there is no functioning meteorological system in Yemen.

She said the rugged, mountainous terrain is likely to trigger devastating landslides.

“The one thing that I did not touch on before is the seas. We have seen very, very high waves," said Nullis. "That obviously will have had an impact on shipping and on fishermen. I hope that is not a route that the migrants use because they obviously will not have been forewarned or prepared for it.”

The World Health Organization says in preparation for the storm it has delivered trauma kits for 1,000 patients in the southern coastal district of Mukalla.

The U.N. agency says it also is providing fuel for eight hospitals and 16 ambulances in the war-torn country, which is short of fuel, medicine and other essential supplies.

On Monday, Cyclone Chapala crossed Yemen's Socotra island causing hundreds of injuries and leaving dozens of homes and hamlets destroyed.

The storm was expected to also make landfall in Oman, but officials there say it will likely not hit the sultanate. However, officials are warning that high waves are expected to hit the shores off of al-Wusta province.

Some information from AP and Reuters was used in this report.