KARACHI: The country’s coastal areas braced on Wednesday for cyclone Nilofar which may cause heavy rain and thunderstorm over the next 24 hours and the Sindh government termed the situation ‘serious’ and declared an emergency in six districts.
The authorities claimed to have vacated government buildings and schools in several areas to house the affected people there. All government offices and educational institutions in Karachi, Thatta, Badin, Sujawal and Tharparkar will remain closed on Friday.
According to the Met office, the cyclone re-curved north-eastward and located at latitude 19.5°N and longitude 62.3°E, about 800km southwest of Karachi and 680km south of Gwadar.
The cyclone will continue to move towards coastal areas of lower Sindh and the Indian state of Gujarat at a speed of 14km per hour over the next 24 hours. At present the estimated central pressure of cyclone is 996hpa and the average sustained wind speed of around is 90-100 knots.
According to an advisory issued by the Met office, the cyclone will start weakening on Thursday afternoon and is likely to cross the coastal areas of lower Sindh and Indian Gujarat as a cyclonic storm or depression with a wind speed of 70-80km per hour gusting to 100km per hour on Friday night.
Under the influences of the cyclone, widespread rain/thundershowers with isolated heavy to very heavy falls accompanied by strong gusty winds are expected in lower Sindh, including Karachi, and coastal areas of Balochistan on Thursday and Friday.
“The sea conditions along Pakistan coast are likely to remain rough to very rough on Thursday and Friday and fishermen of Sindh and Balochistan are advised not to venture in the sea,” it said.
Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah called a special cabinet meeting on Wednesday. It reviewed contingency measures taken by the provincial government and Karachi administration.
“Let me make it clear that one should not take it (situation) lightly,” Sindh Information Minister Sharjeel Memon told reporters after the cabinet meeting.
“We are well-prepared, but at the same time we also appeal to the people to cooperate with us, to be careful and limit their movements and activities over the next two days,” he added.
He said the government had set up emergency centres in coastal areas and appealed to the residents to move to safe places for a few days. An amount of Rs10 million has been given to every district to make necessary arrangements.
The Karachi commissioner’s office placed about 80 relevant institutions, including the Karachi Port Trust and Pakistan Coastguards, on high alert.
“Government buildings and schools have been vacated to shift the affected families there,” Karachi Commissioner Shoaib Ahmed Siddiqui said at a media briefing.
“Our first priority is to save the lives of people and for the purpose we have finalised arrangements for relief work in Hawkesbay, Sandspit, Bababhit, Manora and Ibrahim Haideri. A state of emergency has been declared in all Sindh government and KMC hospitals,” he added.
Published in Dawn, October 30th, 2014