UN agency: Rare cyclone gaining speed bears down on Yemen threatening flooding, landslides

The U.N. weather agency says a rare and rapidly intensifying cyclone is poised to hit Yemen in the coming days, possibly dumping more than a year's worth of rainfall on the arid, impoverished and war-torn country.

World Meteorological Organization spokeswoman Clare Nullis says forecasts suggest that Cyclone Chapala in the Arabian Sea will reach wind speeds of up to 230 kph (140 mph) before diminishing to about half that as it hit land in sparsely populated northeast Yemen around midnight on Monday.

Nullis said Friday in Geneva that her agency was unaware of any cyclone ever hitting Yemen previously, and pointed to the risk to schools, homes and roads from possible landslides and flooding.

She said the port of Salalah in neighboring Oman was likely to be "severely" affected too.