After Phet

08 Jun 2010

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People are silhouetted while they walk along Karachi's Clifton Beach June 7, 2010, a day after Cyclone Phet hit. The cyclone roared past Karachi and tore across the coastal belt of Sindh on Sunday evening after about a week-long, 1,100km journey from the central Arabian Sea, Pakistan's Dawn News reported. - Reuters Photo

Cyclone Phet came and went. Luckily, it had lost much of its intensity as it continued on its trajectory along the coast of Balochistan and Sindh and did not cause the large-scale devastation feared earlier. By Monday, the Met office had downgraded Phet to a “well-marked low-pressure area” hovering over the Indian state of Rajasthan. It added that there was little chance of heavy rain in Sindh anymore. But it was not completely smooth sailing for the coastal belt.

 

Several deaths were reported in Karachi while power had still not been restored to parts of the metropolis by Monday evening. Many areas of Thatta and Badin — where the storm made landfall — also remained inundated. Yet it seems Balochistan has borne the brunt of the stormy weather. Although there were no reports of fatalities as people were evacuated from the vulnerable areas, the material damage has been considerable.

The torrential rains and gusty winds accompanying Phet tore along the Makran coast, particularly affecting Gwadar and Lasbela districts. Power supply, which had been disrupted in many coastal towns as the storm struck, has not been restored, while countless houses have collapsed. Certain areas are reportedly under four feet of water. Dozens of boats in Gwadar have also been damaged. Contact with the affected areas of Balochistan is also difficult as key roads and bridges are either damaged or have been washed away.

Though all the affected areas in Sindh and Balochistan need attention, the latter province requires a little extra effort on the government's part. Claims of neglect following the far more destructive cyclone of 2007 are still fresh in the people's mind. The inattention of the past must not be repeated or it will give disgruntled elements the chance to exploit the situation. The prime minister's promise of aid should be fulfilled through immediate action and aid. Speedy reconstruction and relief efforts should be ensured. There is also a need for officials to come up with a long-term plan that can minimise the risk to settlements from the havoc that natural disasters wreak.