ADEN, Yemen, May 24 (Xinhua) -- The Yemeni government Thursday declared the archipelago province of Socotra a disaster area, after tropical cyclone Makunu hit the island.
Yemeni Government Official Spokesman Rajih Badi said that "Socotra is suffering from human losses and material damages and needs urgent assistance including rescue and shelter to help citizens trapped in their villages or those living in the mountains."
Local officials told Xinhua that a devastating tropical cyclone has killed 18 people. Meanwhile, over 200 families evacuated from their houses and four ships drowned off the island. Several vehicles were washed away by floods and communication was knocked off in most areas of Socotra island.
Earlier in the day, Abdulraqeeb Fatah, Yemen's Minister of local administration and also the Chairman of Supreme Relief Committee, appealed to the United Nations and humanitarian organizations to send medical and relief teams to the cyclone-hit island.
The Yemeni Minister also appealed to Arab and International relief organizations and donors to take action, according to the Yemen News Agency.
Meanwhile, local authorities in the eastern Yemeni province of Mahrah called on the population of the coast to head to shelters as Mekunu is expected to hit the areas in the upcoming hours.
Mekunu hit Socotra island and brought downpours with winds of 160 km per hour, producing flash floods and mudslides.
Socotra island, at a distance of 380 km of Yemen in the Arabian Sea, is home to hundreds of plant species found nowhere else on earth and also50,000 residents that speak their own language.