Two die as cyclone makes landfall

Gales lash Sindh, Gujarat coastline; Biparjoy set to lose intensity

Z Ali June 15, 2023


Howling gales and crashing waves along with heavy to light downpour lashed the towns along the coastline from Sindh to the Indian state of Gujarat, as Cyclone Biparjoy made landfall on Thursday night.

Tens of thousands of people from the vulnerable villages and towns were already shifted to the relief camps in the coastal districts of Thatta, Sujawal and Badin in view of the predicted path of the ferocious cyclone.

Strong winds and rain, preceding the cyclone, lashed parts of these three districts. So far, two weather-related deaths were reported – 10 years old Dua Abro, who died under a falling tree, while Lalchand Kanji, 27, fell to his death from roof because of strong winds.

Biparjoy, whose name means “disaster” in Bengali, hit the Indian coastline with winds of 125 kilometres per hour and gusts of up to 140 km/h at 6:30pm [7pm Pakistan Standard Time], according to an Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) bulletin.

Read Karachi Port braces for stormy weather as threat of Biparjoy looms

“Part of the eye of the cyclone is over the land,” IMD Director General Mrutyunjay Mohapatra said. “Landfall process will continue till midnight after which the cyclone intensity will weaken and wind speed will reduce gradually.”

The US Joint Typhoon Warning Centre said that Biparjoy would continue moving overnight into Sindh. Mohapatra said the cyclone was moving with a speed of 115 to 125 kph, which will start reducing to 75 to 85 kmph over the next three to six hours.

Classified as a category 1 storm – the least severe on a scale of one to five – Biparjoy was expected to flatten temporary thatched homes in its way and damage standing crops, plantations and public infrastructure.

Deserted coastal towns were battered in the dark in parts of Gujarat as power went out after electricity poles fell and some trees were uprooted by gusty winds. Low-lying roads started to flood afternoon after hours of rain.

Gusting winds blew sheets of water that reduced visibility with a dull grey mist. Almost all stores were closed, and shoppers had crowded the few that remained open to buy last-minute food and water supplies.

Mass evacuations

More than 82,000 people were moved from Sindh’s coastal areas in the face of “a cyclone the likes of which Pakistan has never experienced”, Climate Change Minister Sherry Rehman said. Another 94,000 left homes in Gujarat, the state government said.

Read more Govt ensures power supply during cyclone

 shanty settlement of hundreds of thatched homes in fishing town of Zero Point in Badin district —so-called because of its proximity to the Indian border –was populated mainly by stray animals, with at least a 100 idle fishing boats tethered to a long pier.

According to the Sindh government’s daily situation report, some 55,356 people had so far been affected by the storm in 14 union councils, while 46,824 had been accommodated in the relief camps.

It said that 36 relief camps were activated by Thursday, while 102 fixed and mobile health camps were also mobilised. The temporary displaced persons (TDPs) at the relief camps include some 289 pregnant women and thousands of children, the report added.

In view of the incoming storm, local civil administrations, the federal energy minister Khurram Dastgir Khan and General Officer Commanding (GOC) of Hyderabad Garrison Maj-Gen Muhammad Hussain separately visited the coastal districts.

The GOC Hyderabad visited a relief camp in Sujawal and assured the TDPs of continued relief support until they returned to their homes. He appreciated the army, navy and rangers personnel for working day and night in service of the affected communities.

Also read Coastal villagers forced to dislocate as Biparjoy approaches

Meanwhile, people continued to complain about the lack of facilities at the camps. The affected people from Seerani town of Badin complained that the government was not helping them in shifting their livestock from their villages to the camps.

Speaking at a news conference at the offices of the Hyderabad Electric Supply Company (Hesco), Energy Minister Khurram Dastgir Khan said that so far the damage caused to the power transmission system by the inclement weather had been minimal.

“There has been no major impact on the transmission system [because of the cyclone] so far,” the minister said, adding that even the routine load-shedding had not been affected in any way by the cyclone.

Khan said that 12 electric poles fell to the ground in Jhimpir area and another 12 poles fell in the Chohar Jamali area – both in the Thatta district. He added that the teams were working on these poles to restore the electricity.

The minister said that around 2,000 technical staff and officers from Lahore, Faisalabad, Gujranwala, Multan and Sukkur based power distribution companies had been sent to assist Hesco during the cyclone.



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