Seaview cordoned off as Cyclone Biparjoy now 600km away from Karachi

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Karachi’s Seaview Road was blocked for traffic on Monday to prevent people from heading out into the open sea as the Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) said Bipar­joy, now classified as an “extr­emely severe cyclonic storm”, was around 600km away from the coastal city.

“Abdul Sattar Edhi Avenue has been closed at Sehr junction while traffic from Dolmen Mall, Clifton is being diverted to Khayaban-i-Ittehad via Saba Avenue,” South Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Syed Asad Raza told Dawn.com.

Key developments

  • PMD says heavy rain, thunderstorm and squally winds likely in Thatta, Sujawal, Badin, Tharparker and Umerkot districts from June 13-17
  • Police official says 15 checkpoints have been established at Seaview
  • Sindh CM conducts aerial inspection of coastline
  • Hyderabad commissioner says sea level will rise by four to five metres when storm hits

“However, traffic from Clock Tower towards Dolmen Mall has been allowed,” he said.

The precautions came as the PMD issued a fresh advisory which said the cyclone had “moved further northward during the last 12 hours” and lay at a distance of about 600km south of Karachi, 580km south of Thatta and 710km southeast of Ormara.

Karachi’s Seaview Road was blocked for traffic on Monday. — Screengrab from video provided by Asim Khan

The Met department said the system was “most likely to track further northward until June 14 morning”.

It added that the cyclone would then recurve northeastward and cross between Keti Bandar (southeast Sindh) and the Indian Gujrat coast on June 15 as a “very severe cyclonic storm”.

The PMD said the cyclone’s maximum sustained surface winds were 160-180km per hour while gusts as high as 200km/h were around the system centre. Sea conditions were “phenomenal around the system centre with maximum wave height 35-40 feet”, it added.

“The favourable environmental conditions … are supporting the system to maintain its intensity,” the PMD said. The department added that its cyclone warning centre in Karachi was continuously monitoring the system and would issue updates accordingly.

In its alert, the PMD cited the system’s approach towards the southeast Sindh coast and warned citizens that “widespread wind-dust/thunderstorm rain with some very heavy/extremely heavy falls accompanied with squally winds of 80-100km/hour” were likely in Thatta, Sujawal, Badin, Tharparker and Umerkot districts from June 13-17.

It further said that “dust/thunderstorm-rain with few heavy falls and accompanied with squally winds of 60-80km/h” were likely in Karachi, Hyderabad, Tando Muhammad Khan, Tando Allayar, Shaheed Benazirabad and Sanghar districts from June 14 to 16.

“Squally (high-intensity) winds may cause damage to loose & vulnerable structures (kutcha houses), including solar panels, etc,” the department said.

A storm surge of 3-3.5 metres was expected when the cyclone made landfall which could inundate low-lying settlements, it highlighted.

The PMD advised fishermen to not venture out into the open sea “till the system is over by June 17 as the Arabian Sea conditions may get very rough/high accompanied with high tides along the coast”.

‘Elaborate security plan’

Meanwhile, SSP Raza said that there was “no ban on going to Seaview” but restrictions were in place on venturing out into the open sea for swimming, fishing, etc.

“In view of the upcoming cyclone, District South police have issued an elaborate security plan to prevent foolhardy visitors from venturing out into the open sea despite a clear ban by the Sindh government.

“We have set up over 15 checkpoints at Seaview and other roads leading to the beach for public safety,” the SSP highlighted.

SSP Raza added that emergency control rooms had been set up at Seaview to “help visitors in distress”.

Rainfall expected in Sindh

Talking to Dawn.com, Met Office spokesperson Sardar Sarfaraz said the maximum wave height could go up to 12ft when the cyclone hit Pakistan’s coastline.

He said that the weather in Karachi was warm right now due to which the sea breeze “has been kind of trapped”. He said that winds would blow from the south or southeast in the next two days which could cause temperatures to rise to 40 degrees Celsius or above.

Met Office spokesperson Sardar Sarfaraz talks to Dawn.com on Monday ahead of Cyclone Biparjoy approaching Sindh. — Screengrab from video by Asim Khan

“There is also the possibility that from June 14-16, a windstorm blows here as well (in Karachi) and there is rainfall — medium showers at times and heavy at some,” he said.

He added that heavy rainfall was also expected in other districts in Sindh in the coming days, including Hyderabad, Nawabshah and Sanghar.

“It seems that as soon as it (the system) will exit Sindh, a spell of rain will begin in Punjab,” he noted.

Sindh CM conducts aerial inspection of coastline

Separately, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah conducted an aerial inspection of the coastline along Sujawal, Badin and Thatta.

Sindh Local Government Minister Nasir Shah, chief secretary Sohail Rajput and PDMA Director General Salman Shah also accompanied the chief minister.

Shah also presided over a meeting in Sujawal, where he reviewed arrangements being made to mitigate the impact of the cyclone on the coastal belt.

The Hyderabad commissioner, during a briefing, informed Shah that the cyclone is expected to hit the Sindh coast on June 15 and its impact will reduce till June 17-18.

He was further told that when the storm will hit the coast, the sea level will rise by four to five metres.

The minister was also informed that 50,000 people from the villages nearby Shah Bunder, Jati and Keti Bunder will need to be evacuated ahead of the cyclone.

People from the village of Bhagra Memon near Badin’s Zero Point had been evacuated while 2,000 people from the islands of Shah Bunder had been moved last night to a safe place, Shah was told.

He was also given a briefing in Thatta by Maritime Security Commander Jawwad Haider, who highlighted that there were two challenges — high tides and speedy winds.

The official further said that people residing in the areas of Khaar Kuchhan and Keti Bandar will have to be evacuated.

Subsequently, Shah directed the district administration, the Navy and Maritime Security to help the residents.

PPP’s Murtaza Wahab said the Sindh CM was visiting the coastal areas of Sindh to oversee preparations made to deal with the cyclone.

“The health department, the provincial disaster management authority and the administration have been directed to ensure that all facilities are available in case of any emergency,” he said on Twitter.

 

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