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Cyclone Biparjoy to not make landfall before nightfall: climate change minister

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ISLAMABAD: Cyclone Biparjoy had “slowed down” and will not make landfall before nightfall now, Federal Minister for Climate Change and Environmental Coordination Senator Sherry Rehman said Thursday.

It was previously expected that the cyclone would hit the shore around 11am, the federal minister said during a press conference in the federal capital.

However, the speed at which it is moving has slowed by six to seven kilometres per hour, Rehman said, adding that the cyclone’s landfall is delayed due to the reduced speed.

“It is now expected to hit the shores until after dusk.”

The senator, however, stressed that while the cyclone had “slowed down”, its core was still “intense”, and the areas identified earlier as vulnerable still needed to stay alert.

“We had earlier marked four districts at risk. Thatta, Badin, Sujawal and Malir (Karachi). Now, since the trajectory is towards the northeast, the Tharparkar region also needs to be aware of the impact of the cyclone,” she said.

“We will update you regularly since these storms are unpredictable,” Rehman said, adding that the storm was still heading towards the northeast.

She said that strong winds and heavy rainfalls are still expected to go up to 300mm in some areas, adding that while the cyclone had moved away from Karachi, its effects would be seen in these areas.

“A flood warning has been given in the sea,” she said. She warned that winds are blowing at a speed of 120-140km per hour while waves of 30 feet and more are rising in the sea.

Prepared for storm

Briefing the media about the latest situation, she said the evacuation process in the affected coastal belt areas had been completed, and some 82,000 people had been shifted to safer places.

“More than 8,000 cattle have also been transferred,” she said.

“All institutions including Navy, Police Force, Rangers are involved,” Rehman said, adding that the Air Force is not needed now but would provide assistance when needed.

She further shared that the evacuation of people was a difficult task.

“It is not easy to leave your home; however, people are being provided with all facilities including cooked food, and clean water.”

The climate change minister shared that 87 medical units are also in the field, adding that 63 camps have already been set up in coastal areas while another 106 camps are on standby.

Furthermore, Rehman said that repair work is happening in the Sujawal grid.

“90 feeders may be affected in coastal areas. Out of these four feeders were out which were restored after repair,” she said.

The climate change minister further shared that IT Minister Syed Aminul Haque is also active in communication issues.

Rehman addressed people’s concerns regarding the schedule and plan for air travel: “If the wind speed is high, the flights will be stopped.”

She also added that small aircraft are still not allowed to fly and airports have been instructed not to take risks.

Rehman added that the monsoon will be severe after the storm, and the heat will be more intense.

“The areas that were affected earlier are being affected again and again,” she said.

She tweeted earlier: “ALERT #CycloneBiperjoy has slowed down, but [the] core remains intense. It will not make landfall before nightfall now. More information will be shared soon from @ndmapk.”

As both India and Pakistan gear up for the impact of the cyclone, which could devastate homes and tear down power lines, authorities in both countries are on high alert, prompting authorities to evacuate over 100,000 people in both nations.

PMD update on cyclone

The Pakistan meteorological Department (PMD) said in its update that the cyclone over northeast Arabian Sea has moved further northeastward during last six hours.

It now lies near latitude 22.9°N and longitude 67.4°E at a distance of about 220km south of Karachi, 210km south Thatta and 130km south of Keti Bandar, the statement added.

“Maximum sustained surface winds are 120-140 Km/hour gusts 150 Km/hour around the system center and sea conditions being phenomenal around the system center with maximum wave height 25-30 feet. The favorable environmental conditions (sea surface temperature of 29-30°C, low vertical wind shear & upper-level divergence) are in support to sustain its strength through the forecast period,” the weather department said.

The Biparjoy is likely to continue moving northeastward and cross between Keti Bandar (southeast Sindh) and Indian Gujarat coast by today (Thursday) evening as a with packing winds of 100-120km per hour and gusting 140km per hour.

Indian weather expert Mahesh Palawat said Biparjoy had become the longest-lived cyclone in the Arabian Sea. The cyclone has entered its ninth day; the previous record (below eight days) was made in 1998.

Indian weather expert Mahesh Palawat said Biparjoy had become the longest-lived cyclone in the Arabian Sea. The cyclone has entered its ninth day; the previous record (below eight days) was made in 1998.

‘Lives at risk’

In a press conference in Islamabad on Wednesday, Rehman said authorities are trying to evacuate masses to safer places, and it’s the only remedy related to cyclones worldwide.

“The accompanied activities along with the cyclone can put people’s lives at risk,” the minister warned.

The minister noted that the Umerkot area was also under the impact of the cyclone, whereas the expected impacted areas also included Thatta, Sujawal, Badin, and Tharparkar.

The minister said that rain and thunderstorms are expected, and a forecast of 110mm, a conservative estimate of rainfall for Karachi and 330mm for Thatta, has been projected.

In Karachi, she said the people were going to the seashore to watch the cyclone. “People should avoid disaster tourism and avoid making TikTok videos. They should not put their lives and families at risk,” she added.

Suspensions

In the same press conference, the climate change minister said that due to cyclone Biparjoy, the authorities had been forced to suspend small aircraft operations in the metropolis.

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

In line with the directions from the federal government, the Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) Limited Wednesday suspended gas supply to all industries — including their units for power generation, fertiliser sector, and CNG stations.

In a statement, the SSGC stated that the decision has been taken in the backdrop of the possible striking of cyclone Biparjoy and considering the shortage of natural gas and re-gasified liquefied natural gas (RLNG).

“The gas supply has been suspended until further notice from 7am today (Wednesday) morning,” read the statement.

Energy Minister Khurram Dastagir has arrived in Karachi to monitor the electricity situation. 

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