Pakistan ‘largely spared’ as Cyclone Biparjoy weakens after landfall

Karachi/Islamabad: Pakistan was largely spared the full force of  Cyclone Biparjoy which weakened into a severe cyclonic storm on Friday after making landfall in Gujarat, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake in the Indian state.

People in Sindh’s coastal city of Keti, who braved the cyclone threat and a warning of monsoon rains, are now returning to their homes after the Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) said the cyclone has weakened into a “severe cyclonic storm” from a “very severe cyclonic storm”.

“The Very Severe Cyclonic Storm (VSCS) ‘BIPARJOY’ over the northeast Arabian Sea after crossing the Indian Gujarat coast (near Jakhau port) has weakened into a Severe Cyclonic Storm (SCS),” the Met Office said in its latest advisory,” it said.

“The system is likely to weaken further into a Cyclonic Storm (CS) by today noon and subsequently into a Depression by today evening,” the alert added. Biparjoy, (meaning disaster or calamity in Bengali), completed landfall on Thursday night, authorities said.

“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,” Climate Change Minister Sherry Rehman tweeted.

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

She said the authorities would hold a meeting in the afternoon to discuss how to send the affectees back to their homes.

The Sindh government had evacuated as many as 67,367 people from the three vulnerable districts — Thatta, Sujawal, and Badin — and 39 relief camps were set up to house them.

“Thank God; we are safe from the destruction of the cyclone. But it might take us some time to send people back to Sujawal,” Rehman was quoted as saying by Geo News.

Cyclone Biparjoy, which ripped through Kutch and parts of the Saurashtra region of Gujarat, has left a trail of destruction.

Biparjoy unleashed destructive wind speeds of up to 140 kmph, blowing off roofs of houses, uprooting trees and electric poles in several parts while seawater entered villages located in low-lying areas.

Meanwhile, as Pakistan’s Karachi city was once again spared of the devastations of a cyclone, it ignited an old debate if the city was yet again saved by its ‘patron saint’.

“Some local people of Karachi and especially the devotees of Dargah Abdullah Shah Ghazi here believe that Karachi is spared from hurricanes due to the miracle of the sacred person buried here,” according to a media report.

Dr. Mona Lisa, a professor in the Department of Earth Sciences at Quaid-e-Azam University, told the BBC that Karachi is located on the boundary of three plates (Indian, Eurasian and Arabian) which are natural barriers for hurricanes.