Weather office warns of severe damage as India, Pakistan brace for cyclone

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Ahmedbad (Reuters) – Roads will be inundated along parts of India’s western coast and thatched houses were likely to be destroyed, the country’s weather department said on Wednesday, a day before a fierce cyclone was expected to make landfall in the state of Gujarat and southern parts of Pakistan.

Classified as a very severe cyclonic storm, Biparjoy was situated about 280 km (174 miles) from Jakhau Port in Gujarat and was expected to make landfall around Thursday evening.

“It will touch Kutch-Saurashtra coast (in Gujarat) adjoining the Pakistan coast between Mandvi and Karachi and near Jakhau port on June 15 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. in India (1030-1430 GMT),” Manorama Mohanty, the Gujarat director of the India Meteorological Department (IMD), told reporters.

“As of now, our forecast is it will cross as a very severe cyclonic storm. After crossing, its intensity will fall and become a cyclonic storm and depression.”

Meteorologists said the cyclone packed winds with maximum sustained speeds of 125-135 km (78-84 miles) per hour, gusting up to 150 km (93 miles) per hour, and warned high tides in the Arabian Sea could inundate low-lying areas along the coasts during the landfall.

Temporary thatched houses could be completely destroyed while standing crops, plantations and roads were expected to face major damage, the IMD said in a statement, adding that railways could also face disruption.

“Coastal districts of Gujarat have started receiving heavy rainfall,” a senior official with the state-run IMD said. “From Wednesday evening, the intensity of rainfall and wind speed would increase. On Thursday, extremely heavy rainfall is expected. Some districts could get more than 200 mm rainfall on Thursday.”

Eight districts in coastal Gujarat are expected to be affected, the state government said. Fishing has been suspended until Friday and schools have declared holidays.

Many offshore oil installations and major ports, which line up the coasts in Gujarat have been forced to suspend operations.

“We have evacuated more than 45,000 people so far. The evacuation operations will continue till today (Wednesday) evening, mainly in Kutch,” said Kamal Dayani, a senior official in the Gujarat state government.

Auditorium halls in schools and other government buildings were converted into relief camps to provide shelter to displaced people in neighbouring 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. About 100,000 people will be evacuated by Wednesday morning, Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Authority has said.

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