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25 May 2018 06:59 am

Flights affected as cyclone approaches Omani coast

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Qatar Airways on Thursday said its flights to and from Salalah, Oman, and Nairobi, Kenya, are subject to delay or cancellation due to the weather warnings issued in view of Tropical Cyclone Mekunu.

"Tropical Cyclone Mekunu, south of the Sultanate of Oman, is currently moving northwards and impacting Qatar Airways flights between Doha and Salalah, and Doha and Nairobi airports, which are subject to delay or cancellation," the Doha-based carrier said in a travel alert last evening.

The airline advised passengers to refer to the Flight Status Tab on the Qatar Airways homepage for the latest and most up-to-date information. Those passengers already in transit will be assisted at their respective airport, it added.

Passengers with existing bookings were asked to contact their booking agent, call +974 40220072 or contact their nearest Qatar Airways office at https://www.qatarairways.com/e...

Earlier in the day, Oman's Public Authority for Civil Aviation (PACA) announced that Salalah Airport would be closed to air traffic from midnight on Thursday for at least 24 hours as Cyclone Mekunu approached Oman's southern coasts, as reported by the official Qatar News Agency (QNA).

The authority said in a notice that it could extend the closure depending on the status of the cyclone, adding that it was co-ordinating with international airlines in Omani airspace.

"As the authority continues to monitor the developments of Cyclone Mekunu, it is working hard to reopen Salalah Airport to air navigation and restore the smooth flow of air traffic... once the risks to aviation safety are eliminated," the notice added.

Oman Air said in a tweet that all scheduled flights to and from Salalah stand cancelled from midnight on Thursday due to the closure of Salalah Airport.

Tropical Cyclone Mekunu was expected to hit Oman's Dhofar governorate on Friday, QNA said in another report citing the country's Early Warning Centre.

While parts of the governorate could be severely affected by the storm, the surrounding areas could also experience heavy rain, thunderstorms and strong winds, according to Times of Oman.

PACA advised all to follow weather bulletins and take precautions by avoid crossing wadis, flash floods and avoid venturing into the sea, Oman News Agency added.

It pointed out that the Royal Air Force of Oman on Thursday evacuated a number of families of citizens and residents working in Dhofar to their residence in various governorates of the Sultanate through several flights to those governorates.

It added that the Sultan's Armed Forces' Military Committee for Management of Emergency Situations continued its meetings to review all matters related to the preparations while dealing with the Mekunu.

Meanwhile, an AFP report said 17 people were missing and hundreds of others evacuated from their homes on Thursday after Cyclone Mekunu hit Socotra, with Yemen's government declaring the island a "disaster province".

National weather experts in neighbouring Oman expected Mekunu to intensify to a category two cyclone from category one, after it hit Socotra on Wednesday night.

The missing people had been in two boats that sunk and three vehicles swept away by floods, said Ramzy Mahrous, governor of Socotra, an island lying 350km off Yemen in the Arabian Sea.

Mahrous said Socotra could not handle relief efforts on its own, with the number of missing expected to rise. (Source)