Govt on high alert as Keti Bandar braces for cyclone Biparjoy today

PMD says cyclone Biparjoy lies at a distance of about 310km south of Karachi, 240km southwest of Keti Bandar

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An official of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) stands in front of a TV screen displaying satellite images of cyclone Biparjoy at the NDMA monitoring room in Islamabad on June 14, 2023. — AFP
An official of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) stands in front of a TV screen displaying satellite images of cyclone Biparjoy at the NDMA monitoring room in Islamabad on June 14, 2023. — AFP

  • Biparjoy is 310km south of Karachi.
  • It lies 240km southwest of Keti Bandar.
  • Storm's intensity has decreased a little.

Climate Change Minister Sherry Rehman has said that cyclone Biparjoy will hit Sindh’s Keti Bandar today (Thursday) at 11am.

Addressing a press conference in Islamabad on Wednesday, the minister had shared the update about the cyclone hitting today, adding that as many as 66,000 people have been evacuated to safer places from Sindh’s coastal areas thus far.

The federal minister also requested the people to cooperate with authorities and added that all rescue agencies are prepared for relief operations.

“The true form of the cyclone will be known tomorrow,” she added.

The minister said Thatta, Sujawal, Badin and Tharparkar districts will be hit the hardest by the cyclone, adding that the Biparjoy is moving away from Karachi.

Rehman has said that cyclone has forced the authorities to suspend small aircraft operations in the country.

The climate minister said the commercial flights operations would be suspended as the cyclone drew closer to the country.

In its latest update, the Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) said that cyclone Biparjoy over northeast Arabian Sea has moved nearly northeastward during last six hours and now lies near latitude 22.1°N and longitude 66.9°E at a distance of about 310km south of Karachi, 300km south-southwest Thatta and 240km south-southwest of Keti Bandar. 

The cyclone was previously 370km south of Karachi.

“Maximum sustained surface winds are 150-160 Km/hour gusts 180 Km/hour around the system center and sea conditions being phenomenal around the system center with maximum wave height 30 feet,” it added. 

The PDM said favourable environmental conditions (sea surface temperature of 29-30°C, low vertical wind shear and upper-level divergence) are in support to sustain the cyclone strength through the forecast period.

Under the existing upper-level steering winds, the cyclone is likely keep tracking Northeastward and cross between Keti Bandar (southeast Sindh) and Indian Gujarat coast on June 15 (Thursday) evening with packing winds of 100-120km per hour and gusting 140km per hour. "[The] PMD’s cyclone warning centre, Karachi is continuously monitoring the system and will issue update accordingly," it added.

Earlier today, Climate Change Minster Rehman told the National Assembly today that the government is ensuring effective monitoring of tropical cyclone Biparjoy — which is moving steadily toward the Pakistan and Indian coastlines.

“All tracking institutions of Pakistan including PMD and Suparco are working round the clock with international satellites, especially of Bangkok, as it is inching towards Pakistan and India’s coastline with intensity,” Rehman said.

The climate minister’s remarks came during a briefing to the lower house on the cyclone’s movement and the precautionary measures taken by the government.

She further said the cyclone could affect the coastal areas of Karachi with landfalls and gusty winds and was going away from Balochistan.

Biparjoy’s “intense” landfall is expected to hit Keti Bandar.

“Currently, it is moving at around 140-50km/h. Its centre has much speed and density,” she said, adding that the Sindh government had issued advisory timely — following which voluntary and vulnerable areas were being evacuated as per safety measures.

The evacuation was almost complete, she said.

“It’s [cyclone's] focus is in Sindh; however, parts of Balochistan will also be affected by gusty winds and rains," the senator said, highlighting that Badin, Thattha, Sajawal and Malir [Karachi] would face the brunt of the storm.

Sherry Rehman said the Sindh government has set up around 75 relief camps and evacuated more than 62,000 people to safer places where clean drinking water, food and medical facilities were available.

The minister urged the people of expected areas where the cyclone was likely to hit to cooperate with the civil administration and follow the "mandatory evacuation" directive.

All necessary arrangements were being made to keep the losses at their lowest, along with ensuring the supply of all essential commodities, including electricity, gas and petroleum products.

She asked the residents to remove solar panels as per safety measures and move to safer places voluntarily, adding the Sindh government had removed the billboards from several places.

The minister advised the public not to panic but take precautionary measures and cooperate with the departments working for their well-being.

To evacuate or not to evacuate? 

Yesterday PMD Sindh Chief Meteorologist Sardar Sarfaraz said the storm's intensity had decreased somewhat.

"There is no dangerous situation in Karachi, the cyclone will exit from the city's south," he said.

He, moreover, added that the storm was heading toward the north.

"It will then move north-east, where it will hit or pass Keti Bandar and Indian Gujarat," he said, commenting on the cyclone's trajectory.

The chief meteorologist also shared that there is a possibility of light to moderate rainfall in Karachi today; however, the city will probably receive heavy rainfall on Thursday and Friday.

However, DHA took to Twitter to warn residents that high tides pose an "imminent threat" to the port city; it also advised residents of Abdul Sattar Edhi Avenues and Do Darya to evacuate the areas.

"Rising high tides pose an imminent threat to Karachi. Residents residing in Abdul Sattar Edhi Avenues and Do Darya are urged to evacuate and follow DHA Karachi's instructions," the housing authority tweeted.