Cyclone death toll in Oman, Yemen rises to 11: authorities

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A picture taken on May 26, 2018, shows a car stuck in a flooded street in the southern city of Salalah as the country prepared for landfall of Cyclone Mekunu. (AFP/Mohammed Mahjoub)
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A picture taken on May 26, 2018, shows a flooded street in the southern city of Salalah as the country prepared for landfall of Cyclone Mekunu. (AFP/Mohammed Mahjoub)
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A picture taken on May 25, 2018, shows cars driving through a flooded street in the southern city of Salalah as the country prepared for landfall of Cyclone Mekunu. (AFP/Mohammed Mahjoub)
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A picture taken on May 25, 2018, shows high waves breaking along the shore in the southern city of Salalah as the country prepared for landfall of Cyclone Mekunu. (AFP/Mohammed Mahjoub)
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A picture taken on May 26, 2018, shows a flooded street in the southern city of Salalah as the country prepares for landfall of Cyclone Mekunu. (AFP/Mohammed Mahjoub)
Updated 27 May 2018
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Cyclone death toll in Oman, Yemen rises to 11: authorities

  • Cyclone Mekunu left a path of distruction, flooding towns and causing extensive damage
  • One of the dead is a 12-year-old girl who was hit in the head with a door that blew open

SALALAH, Oman: The death toll from a cyclone that battered southern Oman and the Yemeni island of Socotra has reached 11, while eight sailors are still missing, authorities said.
Cyclone Mekunu hit Oman’s Dhofar and Al-Wusta provinces on Friday after intensifying from a category one to a category two cyclone, with winds of up to 170 kilometers (over 100 miles) per hour after it made landfall on Socotra on Thursday.
Oman’s civil defense service on Saturday reported two deaths, adding to an earlier toll of a man and a 12-year-old girl.
“The third is an Asian man who was missing but his body was found late Saturday in Dhofar” province, spokesman Lt. Col. Saeed Al-Badaei said at a press conference late Saturday.
“The fourth is a young Omani man who was swept away in his car by flooding,” he added.
Socotra’s governor Ramzy Mahrous said on Sunday that the death toll on the island remained seven — five Yemenis and two Indian sailors. A further eight Indian sailors remain missing.
The southeastern part of the island remains cut off, but authorities are working to access the area and assess damage, Mahrous told AFP.
Around 1,000 families on Socotra, with a population of around 60,000, were evacuated after their homes were damaged.
The main road linking the airport to Hadibo, the island’s main city, has been reopened, Mahrous said.
Oman’s meteorology directorate announced late Saturday that “the direct effects of the tropical system are over.”
Cyclone Mekunu has now been downgraded to the category of “deep depression.”
Late Saturday it struck Saudi Arabia’s Empty Quarter, one of the world’s most arid deserts, with ongoing heavy rains and strong winds.
The Saudi meteorological authority said on Twitter Sunday that winds blew at 60 kilometers (over 35 miles) per hour, kicking up blinding dust storms.
Rains are expected to continue for two more days, drenching the area with more than 100 millimeters (four inches) of rain, almost six times its annual average, Amman-based weather experts WASM said on Twitter.


Algeria goes offline to stop students cheating

Updated 54 min 24 sec ago
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Algeria goes offline to stop students cheating

ALGIERS: Algeria went offline on Wednesday for the start of high school diploma exams, the first in a series of Internet blackouts to stop students cheating.
Mobile and fixed Internet lines were cut across the country for a total of two hours, to coincide with the start of two separate school tests, AFP journalists in Algiers said.
A third hour-long Internet shutdown was planned for later on Wednesday, according to a schedule issued by public operator Algerie Telecom.
Internet services were cut “in compliance with instructions from the government, aimed at ensuring the high school diploma tests run smoothly,” Algerie Telecom said.
The pre-planned blackouts are due to continue for the whole period of exams, until Monday, to combat cheating among more than 700,000 students.
Ali Kahlane, president of telecoms association AOTA, said operators were required to conform to the government’s demands.
The 2016 exam season was marred by widespread cheating, with exam questions published on social media before or at the start of the test.
Last year, authorities requested operators shut down access to social media, but the move did not entirely end the problem.
Latecomers were banned from taking the exam and instead had to attend a specially organized test.
Electronics with Internet access, such as mobile phones and tablets, were this year banned from Algeria’s more than 2,000 exam centers.
Metal detectors have meanwhile been set up at the entrance to the centers, Education Minister Nouria Benghabrit said.
In a further move to prevent questions being leaked, the minister said mobile phone jammers and surveillance cameras had been installed in locations where the exam papers are printed.