Pakistan on tenterhooks as cyclone makes landfall today

62,000 evacuated people housed in 75 relief camps; PMD forecasts strong winds, storm surges and lashing rains

Our Correspondent June 14, 2023
[1/3] A man with a mobile phone takes a picture of rising waves before the arrival of the cyclonic storm Biparjoy over the Arabian Sea, in Karachi, Pakistan, June 14, 2023. PHOTO: REUTERS


As expected, powerful tropical cyclone Biparjoy slightly nudged towards northeast on Wednesday, sparing the metropolis of Karachi from its hit, and kept on barrelling towards the India-Pakistan border to make the landfall on Thursday (today).

Climate Change Minister Sherry Rehman said that because of evolving nature of the cyclone, the landfall was expected in the morning, against the earlier forecast of the landfall in the afternoon.

According to the latest alert issued by the Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD), the cyclone moved closer to Sindh’s coast. By Wednesday night, it was located in the Arabian Sea at a distance of about 310 kilometres from Karachi.

Read Karachi Port braces for stormy weather as threat of Biparjoy looms

Biparjoy made a turn northeastward and was staying on its projected path, the PMD said. It forecast that the strong winds, storm surges and lashing rains would hammer a 325-kilometre coastal stretch between Karachi and Mandvi in Indian state of Gujarat.

According to the PMD, cyclone Biparjoy – the name means ‘disaster’ in Bengali language – has reached within the distance of 300kms in south-southwest of Thatta, 240kms south-southwest of Keti Bandar and 280km from India’s Jakhau port.

Sherry Rehman said that Karachi was not under immediate threat, but emergency measures were being taken to deal with accompanying winds and rain that are expected to batter the country’s economic hub.

The PMD said under the existing upper-level steering winds, Biparjoy was likely to keep tracking north-northeastward and was expected to cross between Keti Bandar in Sindh and Mandvi in Gujarat in Thursday (today) evening, packing winds of 100-120km/h.

It warned that the cyclone had “maximum sustained surface winds of 150-160kms per hour, gusts of up to 180kms/h around the system centre and phenomenal sea conditions around the system centre with maximum wave height [of] 30 feet”.

Widespread wind-dust and thunderstorm-rain and some very heavy to extremely heavy falls were likely in Thatta, Sujawal, Badin, Tharparkar, Mirpurkhas and Umerkot districts over the next four days, the PMD alert said.

“These areas could also experience squally winds blowing at 80-100km/h,” it said. Dust and thunderstorm-rain with few heavy falls and squally winds of 60-80km/h were also likely in Karachi, Hyderabad, Tando Muhammad Khan, Tando Allahyar, Nawabshah and Sanghar districts over the next three days.

Read more Cyclone Biparjoy leaves fishermen unemployed

Hub and Lasbela districts of Balochistan’s could also witness dust and thunderstorm-rain and isolated heavy falls during this time, the forecast said.

The climate change minister told a news conference in Islamabad that the ‘category-3’ storm’s landfall was predicted to take place at around 11:00am on Thursday (today) which was earlier forecast in the evening, due to the evolving nature of the cyclone.

“We are trying to evacuate masses to safer places and it’s the only remedy related to cyclones in the world. The accompanied activities along with the cyclone can put people’s lives at risk,” Rehman said.

“Karachi has evaded the eye of the storm but it will face cyclonic winds and rains. The provincial government had taken lead and all provincial lawmakers are on the ground,” she added. “We are following a policy of caution. Our first priority is saving lives.”

National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) Chairman Lt-Gen Inam Haider Malik, who was also present at the press conference, said that 62,000 people were evacuated from high risk areas, with 75 relief camps set up at schools and colleges.

Auditorium halls in schools and other government buildings were converted into relief camps to provide shelter to displaced people. Ships and boats have been moved from some areas of coast and hospitals in the region were put on high alert.

Also read Intense heat, possibility of rainfall in Sindh

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif directed the authorities concerned to ensure the relocation of over 50,000 people from the coastal areas to safer locations as part of the preparedness to deal with the cyclone.

The prime minister, in a tweet, said that all relevant organisations were ensuring the evacuation. He instructed that the displaced people should be provided with clean drinking water, food, accommodation and medical facilities till end of the cyclone.



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