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MENAFN - Times of Oman - 05/06/2007

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(MENAFN - Times of Oman) MUSCAT — Lieutenant-General Malik bin Suleiman Al Ma'amari, inspector- general of police and customs, and head of the National Committee for Civil Defence, has announced that the Sultanate will be affected, within three days, by the cyclone heading from the west of the Indian subcontinent.

After presiding over the meeting of the National Committee for Civil Defence at the ROP headquarters in Qurum, Ma'amari told reporters that cyclone Gonu with a speed of 200km was heading towards the Sultanate. The Sultanate's eastern coast is likely to be affected from this evening.

He added that the National Committee for Civil Defence has been continuously monitoring the speed of the cyclone and its approach to Oman coast. The Directorate-General of Civil Aviation and Meteorology will issue warnings every three hours. The situation will be assessed if the speed increases. If the cyclone speed slowed down, citizens will be notified and the warning periods will be reduced accordingly.

Ma'amari further said that the Sultanate's lower regions such as Masirah island and the regions extending from Ras Madrakah to Ras Al Hadd where many people reside, will be affected, adding that the 2/3 of Masirah island topography is surfaced and populated. He said there is a possibility of waves height reaching 10 metres.

"We encourage the people to move from the hazardous areas, particularly Masirah and Al Halaniyat islands, to move to secure areas," he said, stressing that the ROP in cooperation with other government departments will provide shelter and food for people through the critical period of the cyclone.

He also stated that a state of emergency has been declared at the Sultan's Armed Forces (SAF) and Royal Oman Police (ROP) and other authorities, noting that ROP has deployed civil defence vehicles in the regions likely to be affected by the cyclone.

The SAF will also carry out its assigned duties. Other government departments such as health, education, electricity, telecommunications and communications have also been kept ready to deal with the crisis.

Ma'amari pointed out that the cyclone will approach from the east of the Sultanate and that the coastal area from Ras Madrakah to Ras Al Hadd will witness a strong cyclone, which will head towards north, widely crossing the Sultanate's lands in the direction of the Sharqiyah region and part of Al Hajar Al Sharqi and Al Hajar Al Gharbi, penetrating the northern Batinah to the wilayats of Sohar, Liwa and Shinas.

He said the cyclone speed will be high in the coastal areas, while heavy rains are expected in the hilly areas.

Ma'amari stated that the ROP personnel will be deployed in all regions of the Sultanate. He urged citizens and residents to stay at safer places. Three operation cells will be set up in Muscat, while another cell for joint operations of all military and security personnel will also be set up, if necessary.

Public can call emergency line No. 9999.

Ma'amari added that for the time being, warnings are being relayed through the mass media and neighbouring countries have been notified about the situation and all meteorological centres in the region are sharing information between them in this regard.

With the cyclone warning, Oman has evacuated 7,000 people from coastal areas, AFP said quoting police yesterday.


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