Resid bin Sebrak / Anadolu Agency / Getty Images

Cyclone triggers heavy flooding in Yemen

Cyclone Chapala slams war-town Yemen with rainfall and 80 mph winds, killing 3 people and injuring more than 200 others

A rare tropical cyclone slammed into Yemen on Tuesday, triggering heavy flooding and causing damage in the southeastern region of the war-torn country.

Packing winds of more than 60 mph, Cyclone Chapala made landfall in the provinces of Hadramawt and Shabwa, Minister of Fisheries Fahd Kafain told Agence France-Presse.

"The damage is enormous," said the minister, who is part of a commission established to deal with the cyclone that brewed in the Arabian Sea.

The World Health Organization said that it had delivered trauma kits for 1,000 patients in Mukalla, the provincial capital of Hadramawt, and was providing fuel for hospitals and ambulances.

It said Hadramawt and Shabwa had a combined population of about 1.8 million people, including more than 100,000 internally displaced and 27,000 refugees from the ongoing war.

The storm earlier wreaked havoc on the island of Socotra, located about 200 miles off the Yemeni mainland. In Socotra, three people were killed, more than 200 injured, and dozens of houses and hamlets were severely damaged or washed away.

Images posted to social media on Tuesday showed heavy floods hitting the streets of Mukalla, bringing further misery to Yemenis already beset by poverty and rampant unrest.

The Yemen Post newspaper described the city as being "under water," saying on Twitter that Chapala "drowns city with 40 inches of water.”

Cars were half-submerged in muddy water, while seafront roads were badly damaged by high waves.

"The rainfall from Chapala is far beyond anything ever witnessed in this arid area which is not used to cyclones," the United Nations weather agency said on Monday.

The "very severe cyclonic storm" brought maximum sustained winds of 80 mph with gusts of up to 90 mph when it made landfall," it said in a joint update on Tuesday with India's meteorological agency.

But Chapala has since rapidly lost strength, the agency said.

"Due to rugged terrain, dry air intrusion, increase in vertical wind shear and decrease in divergence, the system weakened rapidly into a cyclonic storm and will further weaken into a depression during [the] next 12 hours," it said.

Mukalla has been mostly controlled by Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula since April.

The fighters have taken advantage of the chaos that has engulfed the country since Houthi Shia rebels overran the capital Sanaa in September 2014 to tighten their grip on the sprawling southeast.

Impoverished Yemen is already facing a deep humanitarian crisis, with a severe lack of food and medicine caused by the conflict.

About 10 million children are in desperate need of humanitarian aid, the U.N. warned last month.

Wire services

Related News

Find Al Jazeera America on your TV

Get email updates from Al Jazeera America

Sign up for our weekly newsletter


Get email updates from Al Jazeera America

Sign up for our weekly newsletter