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Cyclone Biparjoy: 62,000 people evacuated from Sindh province in Pakistan

Updated on: 15 June,2023 10:56 AM IST  |  Pakistan
mid-day online correspondent |

Biparjoy, currently a "very severe cyclonic storm", is inching closer to India and Pakistan, prompting authorities to take preventive measures to minimise the damage it may cause to life and property

Cyclone Biparjoy: 62,000 people evacuated from Sindh province in Pakistan

Cyclone evacuees arrive at a temporary shelter set at a school in Badin district of Pakistan's Sindh province on June 14, 2023. Pic/AFP

Officials in Pakistan said that around 62,000 people have been evacuated to safer places in Pakistan's southern Sindh province ahead of Cyclone Biparjoy's expected landfall on Thursday, reported news agency PTI.

Biparjoy, currently a "very severe cyclonic storm", is inching closer to India and Pakistan, prompting authorities to take preventive measures to minimise the damage it may cause to life and property.

It is expected to make landfall between Keti Bandar Port in Sindh's Thatta district and Kutch district in India.

According to PTI, Sindh Information Minister Sharjeel Memon told the media that some 62,000 people had been evacuated from places which are near the coastline areas of Sindh.

"Evacuations have taken place in Thatta, Keti Bundar, Sujawal, Badin, Umerkot, Tharparkar, Shaheed Benazirabad, Tando Muhammad Khan, Tando Allahyar and Sanghar until now," Memon said. He said those evacuated had been moved to government schools, colleges and government offices with solid walls, roofs and stocked with plenty of food, water and medical aid.

He said in many areas of Thatta, Keti Bandar and Sujawal some families were not ready to evacuate and had to be removed forcibly. "There are also people who had voluntarily moved to safer locations," he added.

The Pakistan Meteorological Department (PDM) has said that Cyclone Biparjoy will make landfall on Thursday afternoon or evening and will bring heavy rainfall and windstorms with it and urban cities like Karachi and Hyderabad could face heavy flooding.

The latest alert issued by the PMD said the cyclone was at a distance of about 310 kilometres south of Karachi, 300 kilometres south-southwest of Thatta and 240 kilometres south-southwest of Keti Bandar.

"Maximum sustained surface winds are 150-160 km/hour, gusts 180 km/hour around the system centre and sea conditions being phenomenal around the system centre with maximum wave height [of] 30 feet," the alert said.
The government has also, as a precaution, carried out some evacuations in Balochistan province's Hub and Lasbela districts and in the port city of Gwadar. Energy Minister Khurram Dastgir also alerted citizens about a ¿temporary decline in RLNG-based (Re-Gasified Liquefied Natural Gas-based) electricity generation and temporary increase in load-shedding¿ due to the cyclone disrupting RLNG shipping to Pakistan.

The energy minister said shipping to the Port Qasim RLNG terminals was stopped which also caused the suspension of gas to K-Electric, Bahadur Shah and Bikki Power Plants.

The minister warned that the cyclone could affect the power transmission system in the coastal areas of Karachi and other parts of Sindh.
Chairman of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), Lt-Gen Inam Haider Malik said Biparjoy was following the path that had been predicted by the PMD. "Biparjoy is going northeast and it seems it will take a hard right even further to the east which means it will go past the megacity of Karachi," he said.

In Karachi, also a spokesperson for the Defence Housing Authority said that some 2,000 residents living in Seaview and Darakshan housing areas near the Seaview beach had voluntarily moved to other safer places. The government has been issuing alerts to citizens to stay away from coastal areas, beaches and creeks. Fishing activities have been suspended and all ports in the region have been shut.

"Caution has to be exercised until the risk is over," Malik added. Defence Housing Authority (DHA) Spokesperson Farrukh Rizvi said there could be more evacuations if the situation worsens and the need arises and added that all restaurants and recreation parks along the sea view and DHA coastline had been closed.

The DHA in alerts has said that rising high tides pose an imminent threat to Karachi. The police have also blocked all roads with containers leading to beach areas like Hawkesbay, Manora and Sandspit.

A resident living near Manora said that the effects of the cyclone were already visible in areas along the beaches as strong tides had forced shops to close and cut off roads due to heavy flooding.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said that Karachi's Jinnah International Airport was operational but in case of bad weather, safety measures are taken at the airport as per the set SOPs. "Keeping the pilots continuously informed about the wind speed and the weather is a routine matter," an official said.

"In unusual circumstances, pilots decide on the nearest suitable destination for take-off or landing by considering the terrain and weather conditions," the CAA added. Cyclone Phet was the last major cyclone to hit Pakistan's coastal areas in 2010. It killed 15 people in Sindh and Makran coastal areas and left thousands of people homeless.

As Cyclone Biparjoy barrels towards the Kutch coast in Gujarat, the government has said they have so far evacuated nearly 37,800 people living near the sea in eight districts of the Gujarat state.

The powerful cyclone will make landfall near Jakhau port on the evening of June 15, according to India Meteorological Department (IMD). Fishing activities have been suspended till June 16, ports are shut and ships are anchored as the sea turned turbulent and weather became inclement with extremely heavy rainfall and strong winds in the region due to the approaching cyclone.

(With inputs from PTI)

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