Yemen "unprepared for cyclone Chapala"

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Clare Nullis from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said that Yemenis have been taking a “crash-course” to prepare for cyclone Chapala. Photo: UN/Jean-Marc Ferré

Preparations are under way to help Yemenis cope with a rare tropical storm that's hit the country, amid fears that up to 10 years' rain may fall before the skies clear, the UN said Tuesday.

Tropical storm Chapala, which the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) describes as a "very severe cyclonic" weather event, has brought with it 145 kilometre per hour gusts of winds and rain as it moves through Yemen.

Although Chapala is expected to weaken rapidly before the day is out, WMO is concerned about the risk of landslides, while the World Health Organization (WHO) says that it's stepping up efforts to keep hospitals open in worst-hit areas.

Daniel Johnson has more.

At war since March, now Yemenis are having to deal with a rare tropical storm called Chapala that's battering parts of the country.

The dry air of the Arabian peninsula is usually enough to sap cyclones of their power before they hit, but not this time.

It's thought possible that between six and 10 years' rain may fall while the storm lasts, and that's something that Yemen is totally unprepared for.

Here's Clare Nullis from the UN's World Meteorological Organization, or WMO.

"We expect the impacts to continue because our big fears about this cyclone is the rainfall potential here. Yemen is normally a very arid area, it doesn't have the infrastructure to cope, so we really do this cyclone to have a very serious impact."

Nullis stressed that Yemenis are not used to such violent weather events and that they are now taking a "crash course" in what to do as the cyclone continues its north-westerly course.

Also helping those on the ground in Yemen, the World Health Organization (WHO) says that it's been busy distributing trauma kits and fuel to keep hospitals open and ambulances running.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, (OCHA), the cyclone's effects are likely to be more severe in Shabwah and Hadhramaut, which have a combined population of 1.8 million people.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva

Duration: 1'14"


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