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One dead as Cyclone Mekunu hits southern Oman

Strong winds generate 12-metre-high waves offshore of the sultanate
Heavy rains and strong winds have already been pummelling Dhofar province (AFP)

Cyclone Mekunu on Friday lashed southern Oman with high winds and rain, killing at least one person and wounding three a day after wreaking havoc on the Yemeni island of Socotra.

Oman's directorate general of meteorology said the centre of the cyclone struck west of Salalah, the second largest city in the Gulf state, late Friday accompanied with strong winds, torrential rains and high tides.

"Latest observations show that the centre of the cyclone hit the coast of Dhofar province," west of Salalah, the main city in the province, the directorate said in its latest warning.

State-run Oman Television showed footage of large areas covered with floods in Dhofar and the nearby Al-Wusta provinces.

Dozens of vehicles were seen submerged in several areas. Strong winds had already generated 12-metre-high waves offshore of the sultanate.

Police said a 12-year old girl died when a gust of wind sent her smashing into a wall. Three people who were wounded by the cyclone were rescued.

Civil defence authorities said they had evacuated 10,000 people to shelters, mainly inside Salalah, which has a population of over 200,000.

Authorities have urged residents to stay indoors.

On Thursday, Mekunu pummelled Socotra in war-torn Yemen, leaving at least 17 people missing, causing severe flooding and material damage.

The government declared the island in the northwest Indian Ocean, part of a UNESCO-protected archipelago for its rich biodiversity, a "disaster" zone.

Saudi troops were deployed to Socotra earlier this month following tensions over an Emirati military presence on the island.

In Oman, authorities have placed police and army on alert and closed schools until Monday in preparation for the cyclone.

In 2007, Cyclone Gonu tore through Oman, killing at least 49 people and causing damage estimated at $3.9bn.

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