| 24 April 2024, Wednesday |

India, Pakistan brace for fast approaching cyclone

Authorities in Gujarat, India’s westernmost state, evacuated more than 75,000 people from vulnerable coastal areas as cyclone Biparjoy approached from the Arabian Sea and was projected to make landfall by Thursday evening.

The storm, categorized as a very strong cyclone, was 180 kilometers (112 miles) near Jakhau port in Gujarat and 270 kilometers (168 miles) off Karachi in Pakistan early Thursday, according to the India Meteorological Department (IMD).

The storm appeared to have lost some of its intensity, and is expected to have a maximum sustained wind speed of 115-125 kmph (71-78 miles per hour) gusting up to 140 kmph, down from the 150 kmph that the IMD had estimated on Wednesday.

There was no change in its path, however, and the cyclone was still expected to make landfall near India’s Jakhau port, between Mandvi in Gujarat and Karachi, the IMD said.

In the coastal town of Mandvi, a Reuters witness said while winds were high, the sky was blue and the sun was out on Thursday morning with shops starting to open and people coming out on the streets.

“On Thursday morning, wind speed as high as 90 kmph were reported on Gujarat coast,” said a senior IMD official.

“The speed will rise gradually in the next few hours to 120 kmph, gusting to 135 kmph in the afternoon. We are expecting landfall in the evening when wind speeds would be even higher.”

Auditorium halls in schools and other government buildings were converted into relief camps to provide shelter to displaced people in both India and Pakistan.

Ships and boats have been moved from some areas of Pakistan’s coast while hospitals in the region were put on high alert as part of preparations for the cyclone.

Pakistan Climate Change Minister Sherry Rehman said Karachi, a port city of 20 million people, was not under immediate threat, but emergency measures were being taken to deal with winds and rain that were expected to batter the economic hub.

  • Reuters