A powerful cyclone named Biparjoy is expected to hit the coastlines of India and Pakistan on Thursday, bringing heavy rains, strong winds and high waves. The cyclone, which has intensified into an extremely severe cyclonic storm, is currently over the Arabian Sea and moving towards the northwest.
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has issued a cyclone alert for the Saurashtra and Kutch regions of Gujarat and advised fishing communities to halt operations and evacuate from the coastal areas. The IMD has also predicted heavy to very heavy rainfall in several districts of Gujarat and warned of storm surges of up to 3 meters (10 feet) above the astronomical tide.
The Gujarat government has deployed seven teams of the National Disaster Response Force and 12 teams of the State Disaster Response Force in the districts likely to be affected by the cyclone. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has reviewed the preparedness and assured all possible assistance to the state.
The cyclone is likely to make landfall on Thursday afternoon between Mandvi in Gujarat and Karachi in Pakistan with a maximum sustained wind speed of 125-135 kmph (78-84 mph), gusting up to 150 kmph (93 mph). The Pakistan Meteorological Department has also issued a warning for heavy rainfall, thunderstorms and gusty winds in the southern and southeastern parts of the country.
The Pakistan government has placed all relevant departments of Sindh and Balochistan provinces on high alert and instructed them to take precautionary measures. The Civil Aviation Authority has asked airport officials to ensure the safety of aircraft and cargo. The Sindh government has also said it is preparing to evacuate people from three districts likely to be affected by the cyclone.
Biparjoy is the first severe cyclone in the Arabian Sea this year and the strongest one to hit Pakistan since 1999. Experts say climate change is leading to an increase in cyclones in the region, making disaster preparedness all the more urgent.