Oman: Al Ma'amari chairs NCCD meeting

MUSCAT - Qurayat wilayat, one of the worst affected by tropical cyclone Gonu, is the subject of a vigorous rehabilitation effort, Lt General Malik bin Sulaiman al Maamari, Inspector General of Police and Customs and Chairman of the National Committee for Civil Defence (NCCD), said here yesterday. Addressing a meeting of the NCCD held at the Directorate of Police Aviation, Lt Gen Al Maamari also stated: "The NCCD decided to lower the alert level to 'normal' because almost 95 per cent of essential services, such as electricity and water supply, road communications, telecom services have been restored, while major commercial units have opened as well.

Lt Gen Al Maamari read out the message of Sayyid Ali bin Hamoud al Busaidy, Minister of the Diwan of the Royal Court. The message conveyed His Majesty Sultan Qaboos"s commendation of the NCCD, represented by the Royal Oman Police, the Sultan"s Armed Forces and all other departments, for its earnest constructive co-operation in significantly minimising the impact of the cyclone, as well as efforts to bring life back to normal in the affected areas.

Currently, around 3,150 people - the majority of them residents of wilayat Qurayat - will continue to be sheltered at five centres including three schools in Qurayat, Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex and Muttrah, until complete public services have been satisfactorily reinstated," he remarked. Overall 8,192 people were sheltered at 139 centres throughout the Sultanate, including the Governorates of Muscat, Dhofar and Musandam and the Sharqiyah and Al Batinah regions.

The NCCD also decided to entrust emergency units at various ministries and government institutions with the task of providing further emergency services, in tandem with operational services provided by the Sultan's Armed Forces and the security agencies until the situation is completely normalised. Gonu-related deaths are put at 49, while 27 others are still missing. But the number of missing is expected to increase if more cases are reported, the official said. He attributed the major cause of death to failure to heed safety warnings and to stay outdoors and away from floodwaters.

A nationality-wise breakdown of the death toll is as follows: 13 Omanis (including 9 women), one Sudanese, two Pakistanis, three Indians and one Filipino. Twenty-nine other deceased individuals of different nationalities are yet to be identified, Lt Gen Al Maamary stated. Commenting on the disruption caused by the cyclone to services, he said the extent of damage to electricity supply in various wilayats including Seeb, Baushar, Yiti, Al Sifa and Al Hajar in Wilayat Qurayat, was due to faults in the voltage network mainly caused by flood damage to some substations, broken poles and transformers.

However, work is under way to restore supply to the 1-3 per cent of areas in other wilayats of Muscat Governorate that do not have power. Work is also in progress to attend to the remaining 30 per cent of damage to the power network in Al Hajar in Wilayat Qurayat, which may require a week or more to complete. Commenting on the damage to telecom services, he said that 19 exchanges in Muscat Governorate and the Sharqiyah region were affected. Ninety per cent of the affected exchanges have been repaired.

As of June 15, only the exchanges at Yiti and Sudeirat remained to be restored. On roads, he said the Wadi Adei-Al Amerat carriageway remained closed, although a service road has been opened and will be paved in the next few days. Other roads that have been closed include one in Wilayat Seeb and two others in Wilayat Baushar. A total of 19 roads were affected by the cyclone, of which 15 have been restored. In attendance at yesterday"s meeting were representatives of 17 civil ministries and the military and security agencies that make up the NCCD.

The chairman and members of the NCCD expressed their thanks and loyalty to His Majesty the Sultan for generously hailing all military, security and civil sectors represented by the NCCD and citizens and residents for its aid and rescue efforts in mitigating the sufferings of the victims. The NCCD assured His Majesty that all people, inspired by the wise vision and far-sightedness of the leader, can sacrifice their lives for the sake of this generous country and its loyal people.