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Cyclone Biparjoy: India, Pakistan on alert before landfall

June 15, 2023

Parts of western India and southern Pakistan are bracing for winds and flash flooding as fast-approaching Cyclone Biparjoy moves toward landfall.

Dark clouds gather over a beach in Gujarat.
India and Pakistan are on high alert as cyclone Biparjoy is expected to make landfall.Image: Francis Mascarenhas/REUTERS

The coastal regions of India and Pakistan are on high alert as Cyclone Biparjoy is expected to make landfall by Thursday evening.

The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) said that the cyclone is moving at a speed of 145 kilometers per hour (90 miles per hour) and is projected to make landfall near Jakhau port in the Kutch district of Gujarat on Thursday.

Evacuation drives, disaster preparedness, closing of ports, suspension of fishing activities and diversion and cancellation of flights and trains have been ongoing in both nations.

India prepares for cyclone's landfall

In the northwestern Indian state of Gujarat, authorities evacuated more than 75,000 people from vulnerable coastal communities, said authorities.

Three women look into the camera as they arrive at a shelter home in Gujarat state, India
India evacuated over 75,000 people from vulnerable coastal areasImage: Francis Mascarenhas/REUTERS

A statement released by the IMD on Wednesday predicted that temporary houses, plantations and roads are likely to face major damage.

Indian Home Minister Amit Shah on Tuesday announced a budget of $972 million (€ 899 million) for disaster management.

Nikhil Mudholkar from the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) said that 23 teams have been deployed as "wind speeds have picked up and rains have started too."

So far, five people have been killed in India due to incidents related to the cyclone, including three boys who drowned off the coast of Mumbai city during an unusually high tide. 

A road workers walk by Marine drive in Mumbai, India where high waves crash against the shore
Three boys drowned off the coast of Mumbai city during high tideImage: Rajanish Kakade/AP Photo/picture alliance

Cyclone Tauktae, the last severe cyclone that hit Gujarat in 2021, claimed 175 lives. Previously the state lost over 1,000 lives during a cyclone in 1998.

Pakistan evacuates nearly 80,000 people

Despite strong winds and heavy rainfall, Pakistani authorities said that nearly 80,000 people from vulnerable areas have been moved to safer places.

Pakistan's Electricity Minister Khurram Dastgir warned of power outages and added that 2,000 engineers have already been deployed to deal with the situation.

Waves rise near a beach in Karachi, Pakistan
Pakistan evacuated close to 80,000 people to safer placesImage: Akhtar Soomro/REUTERS

The country's climate minister, Sherry Rehman, urged people not to panic. Karachi, which is home to over 20 million people, is no longer under immediate threat, she said.

Climate change is causing a surge in cyclones

A study conducted in 2021 also revealed that the frequency, duration and intensity of cyclones in the Arabian Sea has increased between 1982 and 2019, said Raghu Murtugudde, an Earth system scientist at the University of Maryland. 

"The oceans have become warmer already on account of climate change," he told the Associated Press.

Shabnam Baluch, the Pakistan director of the International Rescue Committee, said that a surge in cyclones could result in a surge in internal displacement in the country "and this could have far-reaching implications on the future of Pakistan."

ns/fb (AP, Reuters)

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