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28 dead, 26 missing after rare Middle East cyclone

June 08, 2007|From the Associated Press

MUSCAT, OMAN — At least 28 people were dead and 26 missing in the region as residents began cleaning up Thursday in the wake of Cyclone Gonu.

Residents dragged soaked bedding and carpets from homes after the storm blew down trees and power lines and sent torrents of water and mud surging through this seaside capital.

Gonu weakened to a tropical depression after pummeling normally hot and dry Oman and southeastern Iran. The region's oil installations were spared.

Cleanup crews fanned out across Muscat. Bulldozers scraped away mud and rocks that washed down from the mountains Wednesday. Soldiers pumped water from roads.

Grassy fields lay under several feet of water, and lush groves were flattened. Strong waves still battered the beachfront, and the usually sparkling blue sea resembled foamy chocolate milk.

Turgid water flooded homes, carrying away furniture and leaving streets gouged by sinkholes and caked in mud.

"The water broke through the walls. It came inside the house. It swept everything out," said Nidhal Masharafi, 31, who spent the night on the roof with his family.

He said he found his SUV half a mile away sitting atop a taxi.

By Thursday, the storm's sustained winds had declined to 41 mph, less than half the 95 mph recorded Wednesday, the United States' Joint Typhoon Warning Center said.

At least 25 deaths were reported in Oman.

Iranian state TV said two relief workers were killed Wednesday when a river overflowed and flipped their truck in the port of Jask. A third Iranian died in Bandar Abbas, state TV said.

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