Muscat: Tourists have started leaving the Masirah Island while the residents have started ferrying their cars to Shannah, as cyclone Nanauk approaches Oman.
"We are not taking any chances and are shifting our vehicles to Shannah Port to deal with the emergency," said one of the residents of Masirah Island.
Hundreds of people were busy shifting their vehicles on Wednesday to safer places in Shannah Port, about 31km away from the Masirah Island, leading to a major gridlock at the Masirah Port.
"Though the two-hour journey in ferries is very tiring, we are left with no other option. This is simply because we can drive from Shannah to safer places if the cyclone lashes the Masirah Island," one of the residents said, adding that "in case of any emergency, these ferries refuse to take vehicles." Masirah Island has a population of around 10,000.
Even the tourists have started leaving the Masirah Island. "All our rooms were vacant by Wednesday morning," confirmed Varghese Mullassery, Manager, Masirah Hotel which has 29 rooms.
He also said that they have decided not to take any chances and advised all the guests to evacuate. "They checked out today and we are also not taking any bookings for the weekend," he confirmed.
Echoing similar feelings, Vijay Handa, general manager, Masirah Island Resort, said that there were a few American guests who left on Wednesday citing adverse weather conditions and "we are reporting too many cancellations for the weekend."
"We also had an emergency meeting this morning and it was decided that guests will be shifted to the first floor of the building in case the cyclone hits Masirah," he said.
Masirah residents seek safety
"Even we are moving the furniture and other important things to the first floor to minimise the damage if the cyclone hits the 650 square km island," he added.
Hoteliers have also started advising staff not to be anywhere near glass windows when the storm hits, given the likelihood of shattering panes causing injuries. "At the critical time, we will be shifting to the safety of secure rooms within the hotel," they said.
Residents recalled that during the time of Cyclone Phet, Oman Air and Royal Air Force of Oman evacuated the citizens of Masirah Island.
"We can be evacuated but not our vehicles and other important things and that is the reason we are shifting our vehicles to Shannah Port," Mohammad added.
In order to cater to the throngs of evacuees in 2010, car owners were told to leave their vehicles behind at the jetty at Masirah Island when Phet lashed Oman.
At that time, the parking lots at the Masirah air base were chocked with cars left behind by their owners who had boarded relief flights out of the island.
Masirah Island, which overlooks the Arabian Sea, is a magnet for tourists for a range of windsurfing and water sports activities available on the island. Turtle nesting is also a major attraction on the island.
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