Over 40,000 displaced as Cyclone Chapala hits Yemeni coast, UN says


Over 40,000 people have been displaced by Cyclone Chapala in Yemen, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said Wednesday.

Early reports say that three people were killed and 34 others were injured because of the rare cyclone, which hit the Yemeni mainland on Tuesday two days after it lashed the island of Socotra, the OCHA added.

A senior security official on Socotra said that three planes carrying emergency aid from neighbouring Oman arrived on the island on Tuesday and further deliveries were expected on Wednesday.

The coastal city of Mukalla, capital of Hadhramaut province, has suffered severe flooding. Up to 1.1 million people across Yemen may be directly impacted by the cyclone, which is expected to weaken as it heads inland, the OCHA said.

The organization warned that the impact would be most severe in the southern provinces of Shabwah and Hadhramaut, which have a combined population of about 1.9 million people, 76 per cent of whom are already in need of humanitarian assistance.

Those areas could see rainfall of up to 610 millimetres, “many times the total annual rainfall in Yemen,” the organization warned.

Yemen is not normally hit by cyclones and its southern coast has an arid climate. As a result, its natural and man-made drainage systems are expected to have difficulty coping with the expected rainfall.

On Sunday, the cyclone struck Socotra, the Indian Ocean island which lies about 360 kilometres off the coast of Yemen’s south-eastern Mahra province.