A 12-year-old girl succumbed to injuries after gust of wind knocked her against a wall in Ayn Sahalnoot, Salalah, amid heavy rains before cyclone Mekunu made landfall in Salalah on Friday. The city wore a deserted look after rains flooded wadis, uprooted trees and damaged roads. In many places high sea waves entered roads.
Shops and other commercial establishments in Sa’da area were submerged and vehicles were washed away. Some areas of the city witnessed power failure while few areas reported disruptions in water supply. Most of the roads were covered with rain water and sludge.
PACDA rescued 16 expats after their house wall collapsed. As many as 10,000 people from the low-lying areas were evacuated till Friday afternoon with joint efforts of the concerned ministries, PACDA, Armed Forces, ROP and the people of Dhofar.
People were seen on the streets helping the stranded families to get to safer areas, a last minute preparation to make sure nobody was left behind from the dangers of flash floods.
Measures to avoid any untoward incident were implemented with clock-wise precision, thanks to the rescue and disaster-mitigation measures, effective rehabilitation programmes by the Royal Oman Police, Public Authority for Civil Defence and Ambulances (PACDA) and Public Authority for Civil Aviation (PACA) who raised to the occasion as the cyclone moved landwards.
The PACDA had earlier closed all coastal roads connecting the rest of the city while roads of Magsail, Raysut, Dalkut and Aiteen were closed for traffic by the Ministry of Transport and Communication. The waterlogging in the Wilayat of Sadah and Wadi Rabkout in the Wilayat of Thumrait put traffic to a complete halt.
Rehabilitation camps were set up well in advance at the schools, madrassas and mosques and were supplied with essentials, foods, beds, mats and water thanks to the NGOs and other good Samaritans in Dhofar.
People held Friday prayers at high-lying areas after they were instructed to avoid mosques at low-lying areas. “I have never witnessed a situation like this in my 38 years in Salalah”, says Naser Peringathoor, a businessman in the city.
“For the first time in our lives, we had our iftar in the light of a candle but were not able to pray Taraweeh (the special night prayers) while we prayed for the safety and security of the country and the people here.”
The ROP has sent out strict warning to those who share images and videos of the cyclone Mekunu on social media. “Sending out wrong news or unfounded hearsays or baseless information is an offence punishable with 3 years’ imprisonment RO 3,000 fine or both”, a statement from the ROP said.
The civil defence personnel kept watching the overflowing wadis (canals) and put up barricades so that motorists or any other could not cross them, as some of them are located on the regular thoroughfare near Lulu Hypermarket, malls and residential areas.
Local community clubs and sports clubs and organisations have also formed groups to help people. Most of the shopping malls are closed due to overflowing wadis. Many coconut and other trees were uprooted even before the actual landfall of the cyclone.
The authorities, however, were quick to remove them and restored proper movement of water and relief vehicles.
Till today morning many people were found rushing to their mountain homes from Salalah, as most of the people chose to travel on Thursday morning itself.
Ali al Sahri, who works in a public sector establishment in Salalah, has a house on Sahal Hamrir Mountain. He said the weather condition on the mountain was better than the plain even though rain is there.
“No waterlogging is one good thing about our mountain dwellings and the impact this time of the cyclone is on the mountain is less. So I chose to come to my ancestral house along with my family. Still I am praying for my friends and relatives staying in the Salalah city.”
Mohammed, who has been relocated to a shelter house from his house in Dahariz, expressed satisfaction over the arrangements at the shelter home.
He, however, is worried about the aftermath of the cyclone and belongings that he has left at home.
Kaushalendra Singh and Lakshmi Kothaneth