Weakening cyclone Gonu hits Oman
Cyclone Gonu hit the east coast of Oman early on Wednesday, as the strongest tropical storm to hit the Gulf state in decades steadily weakened after reaching land.
Heavy rains and high winds lashed Muscat, with the streets of the capital almost deserted save for a few all-terrain vehicles, after thousands of residents were evacuated from coastal areas.
The wind speed has gone down from 260 kilometres an hour to between 120 and 176 kilometres an hour, Omani weather officials said.
The impact of the cyclone on shipping through the Strait of Hormuz, where at least a quarter of world oil supplies passes, is not clear.
But a transport ministry official had told AFP late on Tuesday that shipping was continuing through the strait.
Weather officials said Cyclone Gonu was expected to be the strongest to hit the Arabian peninsula since 1977.
Omani television said that the eastern region was hit early on Wednesday by the cyclone which was advancing north towards Muscat and the Gulf of Oman.
The army, police and civil defence have all been mobilised since Tuesday.
A senior civil aviation official told the Oman newspaper that a number of safety measures had been taken at the main international airport, but warned it could be completely shut down if the storm worsened.
Schools, as well as the public and private sectors were ordered to shut down from Wednesday until Sunday.
World oil prices had risen on Monday amid fears of potential damage to oil infrastructure, but prices slid on Tuesday as the concerns abated.
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