Oman Damages ‘at Least’ $1 Billion

June 13, 2007

Cyclone Gonu caused at least US$1 billion (€750 million) in damage in Oman, state-owned Oman television reported Monday, as aid and rebuilding efforts continued in ravaged parts of the country.

The authorities have embarked on the urgent initial tasks of rebuilding damaged roads and restoring electricity and water, with the toughest work coming in mountainous areas that are difficult to reach.

Oman is relying on its own resources in cleaning up from the worst natural disaster to hit the country since record-keeping started in 1945. The government has not asked for international help and did not accept the U.S. Navy’s offer of aid.

More than a hundred teams of Omani troops have been sent on relief duty to Muscat and the eastern provinces that were hardest hit by Wednesday’s storm, which killed 49 people, Ahmed bin Harith al-Nabhani, head of Oman’s military said Monday [IJ note: more than 20 persons also reportedly died as a result of the storm outside Oman].

Oman’s eastern provinces were deluged by 24 inches (60 centimeters) of rain and a 10-inch (25-centimeter) rise in sea level, the government said in a press release. Twenty-seven people are still missing and power and water were still out in parts of the capital Muscat and elsewhere, according to TV reports.

Oman TV played patriotic music while showing workers draining floodwaters from Muscat’s inundated shopping malls and shoveling mud from the crescent-shaped seaside corniche.

Power and water was restored to hospitals in Muscat and Oman’s Eastern provinces, al-Nabhani said Monday. Roads between provinces have reopened and the army has helped residents return to homes they evacuated last week on Masirah and Halaniat islands in the Arabian Sea.

Individuals suffered the biggest financial losses in the storm, as Gonu swept through residential areas, taking cars with it and leaving shops and houses damaged or destroyed, said Hamood bin Sangoor al-Zidgali, chief executive of Oman’s central bank.
Al-Zidgali did not give a financial estimate of the damage inflicted by Gonu, but said the country’s most important infrastructure – oil and gas fields and refining plants – were not significantly affected by the cyclone.

The Oman Liquefied Natural Gas Company announced that its production facility in the Sur province was undamaged. The company reopened production on Thursday, just a day after the cyclone hit, said Brian Buckley, the company’s chief executive.

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