Authorities on high alert as cyclone nears Sindh’s coastline

PMD identifies Keti Bandar as expected landfall point

Our Correspondent June 11, 2023
A view of the Sea View beach in Karachi. PHOTO: PPI/FILE


The Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) on Sunday said Cyclone Biparjoy over east central Arabian Sea had further intensified into an “extremely severe cyclonic storm (ESCS)”.

It added that it had moved northward during the last 12 hours and was now near latitude 18.1N and longitude 67.5E.

The PDMA said the cyclone was at a distance of about 760km south of Karachi, 740km south of Thatta and 840km southeast of Ormara.

It continued that the system was “most likely to track further northward until June 14 morning”.

Then, it would recurve northeastward and cross between Keti Bandar in southeast Sindh and the Indian Gujrat coast on June 15 as a “very severe cyclonic storm”.

The Met department continued that the cyclone’s maximum sustained surface winds were 150-160km per hour.

It added that the cyclone’s gusts were as high as 180km/h around the system centre.

The PMD further said the sea conditions were “phenomenal around the system centre with [a] maximum wave height [of] 35-40 feet”.

“The favourable environmental conditions (sea surface temperature of 30-32C, low vertical wind shear and upper-level divergence) are supporting the system to maintain its intensity,” the department predicted.

The PMD said the system would approach towards southeast Sindh.

It forecast that widespread wind-dust and thunderstorm rain with some very heavy falls accompanied with squally winds of 80-100km/hour were likely in Thatta, Sujawal, Badin, Tharparker and Umerkot districts from June 13 to 17.

Read Cyclone: coastal areas put on high alert

“Dust/thunderstorm-rain with [a] few heavy falls and accompanied with squally winds of 60-80km/h” were likely in Karachi, Hyderabad, Tando Muhammad Khan, Tando Allayar and Mirpurkhas districts from June 14 to 16, the PMD forecast.

The PMD predicted squally (high-intensity) winds might damage loose and vulnerable structures (kutcha houses).

It added that a storm surge of three to 3.5 meters was expected at the land-falling point -- Keti Bandar and its surrounding areas.

The Met department advised fisherfolk to not venture into the open sea “till the system is over by June 17 as the Arabian Sea conditions may get very rough/high accompanied with high tides along the coast”.

The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has urged citizens to stay away from shorelines as the cyclone -- heading towards the coastal areas of Pakistan and India -- was likely to intensify during the next 24 hours.

“The cyclone is expected to impact southern and south-eastern parts of Sindh on June 13,” it tweeted.

According to sources, the authorities have decided to transfer the residents of Keti Bandar 10 kilometres away from the coastline on Monday (today).

It was earlier proposed that they should be kept in makeshift shelters for the initial period but it was later dropped.

It was decided that the residents would be kept at public schools and government offices for the time being.

Addressing a news conference in Karachi, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah said the cyclone had steered clear of the path of the country’s economic hub and was now believed to hit other coastal areas of the province as well as Indian Gujarat.

However, the Sindh CM added that rainfall was predicted in Karachi with winds at the speed of 100m/hr.

Shah said under the new forecast Thatta, Sujawal, and Badin were identified as areas under threat.

He added that the Hyderabad commissioner had been dispatched to Thatta, Sujawal, and Badin for the evacuation of residents if necessary. Shah also instructed the Karachi commissioner to secure billboards keeping in view the predicted rains.

He urged people to refrain from unnecessary outdoor activities during the storm’s impact along the coast.

The Sindh CM assured the residents of the province that he was maintaining close coordination with the Karachi corps commander, Rangers director general, and general officer commanding Hyderabad to prevent any untoward incidents in the prevailing circumstances.

In a related development, the Karachi administration has completed preparations with a comprehensive plan to deal with the cyclone.

All the deputy commissioners are in contact with the concerned institutions and state-run hospitals -- the Civil as well as Jinnah -- have been placed on alert.

Keeping the cyclone threat in view. Karachi Commissioner Iqbal Memon called a meeting of all relevant institutions including the Provincial Coordination Implementation Committee (PCIC), Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA), Pakistan Meteorological Department, Pakistan Navy, all the deputy commissioners of the city, Karachi Metropolitan Corporation, district municipalities, local bodies, health department, Karachi Water and Sewerage Board, K-Electric, DHA, Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA) and other stakeholders.

All the deputy commissioners, including those of Malir and Keamari, briefed the participants of the huddle about the details of the low-lying areas in their respective districts and the preparations to provide relief to the people.

Chief Meteorologist Sarfraz Ahmed gave a detailed briefing on the nature of the expected storm.

He said the chances of the cyclone hitting Karachi's coast were low, but strong winds as well as moderate rains were likely.

The PDMA has identified the low-lying areas of Karachi and if necessary, the residents would be shifted to safe places with the support of the deputy commissioners.

K-Electric informed the participants of the huddle that it had taken steps to prevent electrocution accidents as well as provision of power supply to the citizens through other means during the rainfall.

It was decided in the meeting that communication would be maintained through a WhatsApp group.

The meeting reviewed the problem of dangerous buildings in the city.

The SBCA director general told the meeting that there were 450 weak buildings in Karachi, of which 40 were extremely dangerous.

He added that their owners had been issued notices to vacate these 40 buildings.

The participants of the meeting were told that the process of removing billboards had already been kicked off.

The commissioner said special staff members were being appointed for control room 1299 in his office.

He added that organisations could contact each other and citizens could reach out for assistance at any time through the control room.

The commissioner took notice of the fact that the Karachi administration was not implementing Section 144 which was already in force for banning fishing, boating and swimming in the sea in view of the cyclone threat.

Memon ordered the authorities concerned to ensure the implementation of the ban.


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