Ban on going into open sea lifted in Karachi after Cyclone Biparjoy weakens

Published June 16, 2023
Cyclone Biparjoy’s current position and projected route.—Zoom Earth
Cyclone Biparjoy’s current position and projected route.—Zoom Earth

With Pakistan “largely spared” after Cyclone Biparjoy made landfall in India’s Gujarat and weakened into a “cyclonic storm”, Karachi authorities on Friday lifted the ban on going into the open sea.

The ban, that prohibited venturing into the open sea for sailing, fishing, swimming or bathing, had come into effect on June 11 under Section 144 (power to issue order absolute at once in urgent cases of nuisance or apprehended danger) of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

In a notification issued today, Karachi Commissioner Iqbal Memon cited the Met Office’s update and said the imposition of Section 144 stood infructuous.

The notification, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, also said that an earlier notification regarding the cancellation of leaves of officers and officials of the Karachi divisional and district administration also stood infructuous.

In an another notification, the commissioner also ordered the “resumption of examinations and other education-related activities” from June 17.


Key developments

  • Sherry Rehman says cyclone has completed landfall in India’s Gujarat, Pakistan “largely spared”
  • PMD says Biparjoy has weakened into a “cyclonic storm”, likely to depress by evening
  • Sindh CM says life returning to normal; DHA Karachi tells evacuated residents to go home
  • Exams to resume across Karachi tomorrow

Citing a previous notice dated June 13 to cancel the said activities, the notification noted, “Due to reduction in the severity of cyclone, the threat of cyclonic danger for Karachi division has reduced.”

Earlier today, Climate Change Minister Sherry Rehman said that the cyclone had completed landfall in India’s Gujarat.

“Pakistan was prepared but largely spared the full force. Sindh’s coastal areas, like Sujawal, were inundated by high sea levels but most people had been evacuated to safe ground,” she said.

The minister also thanked all authorities concerned for a “stellar coordination effort”.

Meanwhile, the latest alert issued by the Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) said that Biparjoy had weakened into a “cyclonic storm” from a “very severe cyclonic storm” during the last three hours.

“The system is likely to weaken further into a depression by today evening,” it said.

The alert stated that the cyclone was at a distance of 110km south of Badin, 200km southeast of Keti Bandar and 180km southeast of Thatta.

“The associated maximum sustained surface winds are 80-100 Km/hour with sea conditions being over the northeast Arabian Sea with wave height 10-12 feet,” the alert said.

It said that widespread rain/thunderstorm accompanied by squally winds were likely in Sindh’s Sujawal, Badin, Tharparker and Umerkot districts while heavy rain was likely in Thatta and Mirpurkhas districts today and tomorrow (Saturday).

Dust/thunderstorm-rain with few moderate falls and gusty winds likely in Karachi, Hyderabad, Tando Muhammad Khan, Tando Allayar, Shaheed Benazirabad and Sanghar districts today, the alert said.

The weather alert said that a storm surge of 2-2.5 metres was expected along Keti Bandar and its surrounding areas, adding that sea conditions along the Sindh-Makran coast were likely to be rough.

It also advised fishermen to refrain from venturing out into the open sea until the system was over by June 17.

The Civil Aviation Authority also issued a notice to airmen, or NOTAM, in light of the cyclone. The NOTAM said that take-off and landing would not be permitted when the wind speed exceeded 30 knots at Karachi, Nawabshah, Moenjodaro, and Sukkur airports.

‘Life returning to normal,’ Sindh CM says

Meanwhile, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah said life was returning to normal in the areas along the country’s coastline as the danger posed by Biparjoy had been averted.

He thanked Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, the Sindh government, and law enforcement agencies for aiding in the safety measures taken to prepare for the cyclone’s landfall.

“I am grateful to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif who assured me of all kinds of help and cooperation,” he said.

Crediting the Sindh government for taking “robust measures”, Shah highlighted that his party chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari “continuously kept giving directions for the protection of people’s lives and property”.

He also thanked the provincial ministers, advisers, other elected representatives, the Pakistan Army, the Navy, Rangers and Maritime Security for their efforts ahead of the cyclone, as well as the PMD.

“Welfare institutions also left no stone unturned in helping the government ahead of the natural disaster,” Shah added.

The PPP leader further appreciated the residents who “left their homes on the direction of the government and went to camps”.

“This is called teamwork. Few examples of such work are found.”

In a tweet, the Defence Housing Authority (DHA) in Karachi also said that the threat had “diminished” and told residents — who were earlier evacuated — to return home.

‘Chaos everywhere’

Meanwhile, shops had been closed early on Thursday evening in Badin and the usually bustling streets emptied as night fell.

“Everybody is immensely fearful,” 30-year-old government clerk Iqbal Mallah told AFP.

In the early morning, heavy winds were gusting and puddles blotched the roads, as concerns remained despite the storm proving less severe than forecast.

“Shops are closed down early, people prefer to stay at home […] it’s chaos everywhere,” said Abdullah Soomro, a hotel manager in Badin.

Earlier today, the PMD also released data on the amount of rainfall received over the last 24 hours. The data showed that the highest amount of rainfall was reported in Balochistan’s Barkhan and Zhob which received 45mm and 10mm, respectively.

In Sindh, Mithi received 41mm, Thatta 29mm, Diplo 29mm, Nagarparkar and Kaloi 16mm, and Badin and Shaheed Benazirabad 10mm of rain.

Separately, Sindh Governor Kamran Tessori has sent food aid for those affected by the cyclone and displaced because of it in the areas of the Badin district.

The food will be distributed to 20,000 people residing in those areas. The governor vowed to “not leave the [cyclone] affectees alone”, adding, “Helping the affectees is the responsibility of all of us.”

Power disrupted, trees uprooted, roofs blown off in India’s Gujarat

 A tree uprooted due to strong winds is seen before the arrival of cyclone Biparjoy in the western state of Gujarat, India on June 15. — Reuters
A tree uprooted due to strong winds is seen before the arrival of cyclone Biparjoy in the western state of Gujarat, India on June 15. — Reuters

Roofs were blown off houses and trees and electric poles were uprooted, leaving thousands without power as a severe cyclone made landfall overnight and heavy rain continued to lash the coast early on Friday.

Two men, both shepherds, died while trying to rescue their cattle from being swept away during heavy rains and floods in Gujarat’s Bhavnagar district on Thursday evening, the cyclone control room said.

Power was disrupted at many places in the Kutch district of Gujarat because of strong winds, said Amit Arora, a top district official overseeing rescue operations.

Gale-force winds caused hundreds of trees to be uprooted in the coastal areas of Gujarat, and heavy rains led to electricity poles being damaged, causing thousands to be without power on Friday, local officials said.

India’s weather department warned of heavy to very heavy rainfall in Gujarat and the neighbouring state of Rajasthan through Friday.

Biparjoy weakened after hitting land with a wind speed of 105km per hour to 115km/h, Mrutyunjay Mohapatra, director general at the India Meteorological Department said on Friday.

Local television showed visuals of uprooted trees, people sheltering against strong winds and debris lying on roads in the aftermath of the cyclone.

The Indian government had directed all offshore oil installations to ensure the immediate return of all staff to land and advised ports to also take preventive action, but there was no word on how the landfall had affected operations, if at all.


Additional input from AFP, Reuters and Haseeb Bhatti

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