| 23 April 2024, Tuesday |

Severe cyclone likely to hit India’s west coast, south Pakistan on Thursday

The weather service warned that a storm off the west coast of India has intensified into a potent cyclone that could this week make landfall in Pakistan’s south and the western state of Gujarat in India.

According to the India Meteorological Department (IMD), the cyclone, known as Biparjoy, is anticipated to make landfall on Thursday afternoon between Mandvi in Gujarat and Karachi in Pakistan with a maximum sustained wind speed of 125-135 km/h (78-84 miles/hour), with gusts up to 150 km/h (93 miles/h).

Nearly a dozen districts in coastal Gujarat would be affected by heavy rainfall and gusting winds, although some of these are sparsely populated, which would limit the damage, said a weather office official, who declined to be named.

Fishermen in Gujarat have been advised against going to sea and those at sea have been called back, with 21,000 boats parked so far, the government said on Monday.

Offshore oil installations have also been asked to ensure immediate return of all manpower, and two of India’s largest ports – Kandla and Mundra – located in Gujarat have been alerted while other ports have been advised for preventive action.

Gujarat Pipavav Port Limited, in a stock exchange filing on Monday, said operations at its Pipavav Port had been suspended since late Saturday evening due to “prevailing severe weather conditions”.

Ten teams of the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) and 12 of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) have been deployed in Gujarat, the government said, with three more NDRF teams on standby and another 15 ready to be airlifted from other states on short notice.

“Rescue and relief teams of the Coast Guard, Army and Navy along with ships and aircrafts have been kept ready on standby,” it said.

In neighbouring Pakistan, the National Disaster Management Authority said instructions are being given to take precautionary measures in southern and southeastern parts that may be affected.

“Its (the cyclone’s) evolving impact will only be certain with further development of the situation,” the authority said.

A 1998 cyclone killed at least 4,000 people and caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damage in Gujarat.

Biparjoy delayed the onset of the annual monsoon over the southern state of Kerala, but now conditions are favourable for the progress of much-needed rains in some more parts of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu states, India’s weather office said.

  • Reuters