May 25 (UPI) -- Yemeni officials have declared the southern island of Socotra a disaster zone after Cyclone Mekunu hit and trapped people in floodwaters strong enough to sink two cargo ships.
More than 200 families were evacuated as the storm approached Thursday with sustained winds near 100 mph. The cyclone produced flash floods and mudslides and knocked out communications in most areas.
At least 17 people are reported missing.
Forecasters said Mekunu is now the equivalent of a Category 2 hurricane.
Mekunu hit the archipelago of Socotra Wednesday in the Guardafui Channel, an oceanic strait off the tip of the Horn of Africa.
Yemen officials have asked the United Nations and humanitarian organizations to send medical and relief teams to the island, which houses about 50,000 residents that speak their own language.
Socotra also is home to hundreds of plant species found nowhere else on the planet.
Meteorologists expect the cyclone to strike Oman on Saturday near Salalah, which has about 200,000 people.
Mekunu follows Cyclone Sugar, which hit Somalia last week and displaced thousands. Thirty-one people died.