Over 100,000 evacuated as cyclone threatens India, Pakistan

A woman takes care of her child as she with other families take shelter in a school after fleeing from their villages of costal areas due to Cyclone Biparjoy approaching, in Gharo near Thatta, a Pakistan's southern district in the Sindh province, Wednesday, June 14, 2023. (AP Photo/Fareed Khan)

More than 100,000 people have been evacuated from the path of a fierce cyclone heading towards India and Pakistan, with forecasters warning it could devastate homes and tear down power lines.

Biparjoy, meaning "disaster" in Bengali, is making its way across the Arabian Sea and is expected to make landfall as a "very severe cyclonic storm" on Thursday evening, government weather monitors said on Wednesday.

Powerful winds, storm surges and lashing rains were forecast to hammer a 325-kilometre stretch of coast between Mandvi in India's Gujarat state and Karachi in Pakistan.

India's Meteorological Department predicted the storm will hit near the Indian port of Jakhau late Thursday, warning of "total destruction" of traditional mud and straw thatched homes.

At the usually bustling Jakhau port, sounds of activity were replaced by the howls of wind and the roar of rough seas.

Gusts battered more than 30 large fishing boats dragged up out of the water onto the shore, as dozens of stray dogs roamed around the port's entrance.

At sea, winds were already gusting at speeds up to 180 kilometres per hour, forecasters said.

Wind speeds are predicted to reach 125-135 kph, with gusts up to 150 kph, by the time it makes landfall.

"Over 47,000 people have been evacuated from coastal and low-lying areas to shelter," said C.C. Patel, an official in charge of relief operations in Gujarat.

More were expected to be moved inland throughout Wednesday.

India's meteorologists warned of the potential for "widespread damage", including the destruction of crops, "bending or uprooting of power and communication poles" and disruption of railways and roads.

'High to phenomenal'

Pakistan's climate change minister Sherry Rehman said on Wednesday that 62,000 people had been evacuated from the country's southeastern coastline, with 75 relief camps set up at schools and colleges.

She said fishermen had been warned to stay off the water and small aircraft were grounded, while urban flooding was possible in the megacity of Karachi, home to around 20 million people.

"We are following a policy of caution rather than wait and see," she told reporters in Islamabad. "Our first priority is saving lives."

The Pakistan Meteorological Department forecast gusts up to 140 kph in the southeastern province of Sindh, accompanied by a storm surge reaching 3.5 metres.

Fishing has also been suspended along the Gujarat coast, with conditions expected to escalate from "rough to very rough" on Wednesday to "high to phenomenal".

India's armed forces were "ready to provide every possible assistance", Defence Minister Rajnath Singh wrote on Twitter, with disaster response teams mobilised and warning of the risk of "flooding in some low-lying areas".


Source: TRT