Cyclone Gonu Equivalent of Category 5 Hurricane

MUSCAT, Oman, Jun 05, 2007 (AP)

Pan-Arab satellite Al-Jazeera television station reported Tuesday that Cyclone Gonu had reached the equivalent of a category five hurricane and was expected to make landfall within hours.

Gonu is heading northwest through the Indian Ocean toward Oman's east coast.

More people have fled their homes in Oman's eastern coastal towns as Gonu approaches the oil-rich Gulf area, police officials said.

A state of emergency was declared in the affected area, including mobilizing army and police forces to help provide shelter and medical services.

Authorities also took precautionary emergency measures in major oil installations which remained operating Tuesday. Most of the nation's key oil facilities are on the northeastern coast of Oman and not directly in the storm's projected path.

The government in neighboring Saudi Arabia issued a statement reassuring its people and the oil markets that it would not be seriously affected by the storm.

Many areas have already been hit heavy rain and strong wind.

The most powerful part of the storm was expected to hit Oman Thursday, before moving north into southern Iran.

Gonu is expected to be the strongest cyclone to hit the Arabian Peninsula since record keeping started in 1945. A cyclone is the term used for hurricanes in the Indian Ocean and Western Pacific.

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