KARACHI, June 25: Authorities started evacuating people from the coastal areas of Sindh and Balochistan on Monday as a powerful storm over the northern Arabian Sea intensified into a tropical cyclone about 150 kilometres from Karachi.
The cyclone’s ferocity was expected to spare Karachi, but it may lash Balochistan with gusty winds sometime on Tuesday, according to weather pundits.
On Monday Karachi received 33mm of rainfall, accompanied by strong winds — two days after a violent duststorm killed over 200 people and left the city in chaos.
The Army, Navy and paramilitary forces put their soldiers on a high alert as the local administrations started shifting affected people from coastal areas to government schools.
The region’s chief weatherman told Dawn that cyclone ‘Yemyin 03B’ was moving at a speed of 10km per hour, packing winds ranging between 40 and 70 knots.
“The tropical cyclone is expected to cause gusty winds and heavy rains, though it will stay 100kms off Karachi during he next 10 hours,” he added.
The adviser to the Sindh chief minister on Home Affairs, Waseem Akhtar, told Dawn that the provincial government was making arrangements for the evacuation of people living along the coast and in low-lying areas.
“People in the coastal areas are being moved to safer places with the help of paramilitary forces and local administration and the arrangements are being made to provide the affected people with food and drinking water”, he added.
He said special measures were being taken for people living in Karachi’s islands. “The Navy has been put on high alert for Baba Bhit and other islands in case of any eventuality.”
Waseem Akhtar said three complaint cells had been established to monitor the situation and arrangements in view of the cyclone.
The Met office advised fishermen to stay ashore until Thursday as the storm surge could trigger waves ranging between three and eight metres along the Balochistan coast.
Officials in Balochistan said over 2,000 people had been evacuated to higher ground from areas along the Arabian Sea coast.
It said that the system could bring `heavy to very heavy rains’ in Balochistan, especially in coastal areas along Gwadar, Jiwani, Pasni, Ormara, Lasbella etc.
The Met office forecast flash floods for hilly areas, especially in southern Balochistan.
Weather forecasts sowed panic and chaos in Defence Society and Clifton, prompting many families to leave their houses and seek shelter in the inner city.
The evening downpour inundated all major roads across the metropolis.