A cyclone with hurricane-force winds made landfall on Yemens Arabian Sea coast on Tuesday (3 November), flooding the countrys fifth-largest city Mukalla and sending thousands of people fleeing for shelter. Officials and meteorologists say the storm is the most intense in decades in the arid country, whose storm response is hampered by poverty and a raging civil war.
In the provincial capital Mukalla, water submerged cars on city streets and caused dozens of families to flee to a hospital for fear of rock slides. Residents said the seafront promenade and many homes had been destroyed by the cyclone, called Chapala, and officials in the dry hinterland province of Shabwa said about 6,000 people had moved to higher ground.
An al Qaeda militant on Twitter prayed for deliverance from the storm and said that a US pilotless drone was flying especially low over the city, where the militant groups deputy leader was killed in an air strike in June. The cyclone first hit the remote Yemeni island of Socotra, killing three people and displacing thousands.
An island of natural beauty, Socotra is home to hundreds of plant species found nowhere else on Earth and lies 380 km off Yemen in the Arabian Sea. Its 50,000 residents speak their own language.
Meteorological agencies predicted Chapala would hit land around Balhaf, the site of Yemens liquefied natural gas terminal, and weakening as it advanced towards the capital Sanaa in the countrys north.
The facility has been mostly shuttered since the start of a war in March between a Saudi-led Arab military coalition and the Iran-allied Houthi movement which controls Sanaa.
It was not immediately clear if the terminal, once a lifeline for Yemens weak economy, suffered damage.