Cyclone Phet damages may cost $780 mln

MUSCAT Mon Jun 7, 2010 7:02pm IST

A car is pushed through floodwaters brought about by Cyclone Phet in Muscat June 5, 2010. Damages from Cyclone Phet, which pummelled the Omani coastline last week and killed 21 people, could cost the Gulf Arab state over 300 million rials ($780 million), a government official said on Monday. REUTERS/Herbert Fernandes

A car is pushed through floodwaters brought about by Cyclone Phet in Muscat June 5, 2010. Damages from Cyclone Phet, which pummelled the Omani coastline last week and killed 21 people, could cost the Gulf Arab state over 300 million rials ($780 million), a government official said on Monday.

Credit: Reuters/Herbert Fernandes

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MUSCAT (Reuters) - Damages from Cyclone Phet, which pummelled the Omani coastline last week and killed 21 people, could cost the Gulf Arab state over 300 million rials ($780 million), a government official said on Monday.

Phet hit Oman's eastern coast last Friday but the Category 1 cyclone's force was felt in many parts of the country, with winds reaching up to 120 km (75 miles) per hour.

"The reconstruction cost could exceed 300 million rials and that is on the conservative side," a civil defence department spokesman told Reuters, adding that most damages were to infrastructure and private property.

State television said Phet damaged bridges, roads, desalination plants, electricity and water pipes across the country, with the bulk of destruction along the eastern coast.

Oman Fisheries Company issued a statement saying parts of its plants in the east were destroyed by floods.

"The loss is estimated to 150,000 Omani rials approximately. The actual cost will be known only after inspecting the affected areas," a statement said.

Omani state television on Monday raised the death toll from 14 to 21 people. Most victims drowned in the floods' strong currents.

Many Omani residents found their homes and shopping areas submerged under water on Saturday from flooding caused by Phet's heavy rains, and hundreds of cars were swept away.

In 2007, Cyclone Gonu devastated Oman, killing 34 people and causing damages of up to $2.5 billion.

"The damage is not as big as Gonu but the insurance companies could face a payout bill between $100 to $200 million to the private sector," Deepak Kamath, county manager of AXA Insurance said.

(Editing by Myra MacDonald)

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