Environment

Saudi Arabia sends aid to storm-damaged areas of Yemen

By Nabil Abdullah al-Tamimi in Aden

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Waves crash on the shore of the Omani city of Salalah on October 12th as Tropical Storm Luban approaches southern parts of Oman and Yemen. [Mohammed Mahjoub/AFP] 

Saudi Arabia has announced an air and ground operation to provide relief to Yemen’s al-Mahra province, which suffered extensive damage when it was hit by Tropical Storm Luban.

At least three people were killed and 33 injured by flash flooding in Yemen and neighbouring Oman caused by the storm, the UN and local authorities have said.

Al-Mahra, in the far east of Yemen, and the neighbouring Dhofar region of Oman are the only parts of the Arabian Peninsula that have a monsoon climate, governed by the tropical weather systems of the Indian Ocean, AFP reported.

Most of the casualties from the storm were reported in coastal districts of al-Mahra, where two people were killed and 33 injured by widespread flooding, the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs said.

In Oman, the civil defence said one man was found dead in Dhofar.

The storm also caused extensive damage to public and private properties.

Emergency relief plan

Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Yemen Mohammed al-Jaber announced an emergency plan to provide relief to al-Mahra province.

"Joint forces and the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre (KSRelief) are providing food and shelter support, and have kicked off an air and ground operation to provide relief to al-Mahra," al-Jaber said in a social media post.

"In addition, the Saudi Development and Reconstruction Programme for Yemen will open roads and repair power networks to support our brothers in dealing with the damages caused by Luban," he added.

Al-Mahra governor Rajeh Saeed Bakreet on Monday (October 15th) declared al-Mahra a disaster area as a result of the torrential floods caused by the tropical storm.

"The situation in the province is catastrophic, and is way beyond the local authorities’ modest capabilities," he said.

Bakreet also urged the Arab coalition to provide aerial support to help evacuate trapped families, noting that the situation in the provincial capital of al-Ghaydah and in the areas of al-Abri, Monagh, Wadi Tanhalen and al-Masila is catastrophic.

"A number of houses in al-Masila were flooded, and 50 families are trapped on rooftops," he told local news agencies.

"The province’s districts are still being hit and flooded," he added, warning people not to travel between districts and risk crossing the valleys that are affected by the storm.

Meanwhile, three trucks carrying 75 tonnes of basic food items provided by KSRelief crossed al-Wadia crossing on Monday, en route to al-Mahra.

Prime Minister dismissed

Late Monday, Yemeni President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi announced he was dismissing Prime Minister Ahmed Obaid bin Daghr.

One of the reasons for the decision was "the government’s failure to take appropriate measures to deal with the disaster of Tropical Storm Luban in al-Mahra", according to reports published by local news agencies.

"Relief efforts are ongoing in al-Mahra, and the Interior Minister has issued instructions to security agencies to play their role in [responding to] the disaster," Yemen's Deputy Minister of Human Rights Nabil Abdul Hafiz said.

"In addition, an operations room was created at the High Relief Committee to follow up on the situation and take urgent measures," he told Al-Mashareq.

"The situation is catastrophic in al-Mahra, as many families are still trapped at home waiting to be rescued," he said.

According to Abdul Hafiz, "400 families were taken to temporary shelters over the past hours, and operations are under way to rescue the remaining families and bring them to shelters".

"Efforts are under way via the air and ground lift, which is implemented by KSRelief, and which includes hundreds of tonnes of relief items, including blankets and tents," he added.

He urged all local and international organisations to assist with relief efforts.

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