2 People in India and Pakistan were killed by cyclone Biparjoy
Islamabad and New Delhi
Tropical Storm Biparjoy made landfall in India’s western Gujarat state, near the Pakistan border, unleashing strong winds that ripped apart trees and broke power lines.
According to the Joint Typhoon Warning Centre, Biparjoy was a powerful tropical storm with winds of 65 mph (100 kph) when it made landfall.
Wind and storm surge hazards are forecast to reduce as it advances slowly onshore, with flooding becoming the most major effect for millions of people over the next 48 hours.
Heavy rain advisories for northwest India are anticipated to stay in effect till Saturday.
The meteorological agency in Pakistan issued a warning of widespread dust storms and thunderstorms in the southern Sindh province, with some extremely heavy rain and squally gusts of 50-60 mph (80-100 kph).
Local Indian television broadcasted video and photographs of roads turning into rivers, trees bending in the wind, and people swimming waist-deep in floodwater.
As of Friday morning local time, two people had been slain in India, bringing the total number of people killed in the country to nine. Earlier this week, four boys drowned off the shore of Mumbai, the country’s financial capital, while three others perished after a wall collapsed in Gujarat’s Kutch and Rajkot regions due to heavy rain and high winds, according to Reuters, citing local authorities.
The Indian army and coast guard are standing by to help with rescue and relief activities.
Pakistan’s Climate Change Minister, Sherry Rehman, tweeted on Friday that the nation had been “prepared but largely spared the full force” of Biparjoy.
Both India and Pakistan adopted widespread safety precautions before the storm to guarantee minimum damage and loss of life. According to officials, around 180,000 people have been evacuated from high-impact zones in both nations.
Livestock was also relocated to higher land, schools were closed, and fishing was prohibited throughout Gujarat state. Two of India’s main ports have also shut down.
Meanwhile, malls and shops along the shoreline of Karachi, Pakistan’s largest metropolis and the capital of Sindh, have been closed. Pakistan’s national carrier, PIA, has also taken preventive steps, such as round-the-clock security, to reduce possible risks.
According to the National Disaster Management Authority, fishermen have been instructed to avoid the water, and hospitals are stocked with emergency workers.
Since late last week, Biparjoy has been churning over the northeastern Arabian Sea, towards southern Pakistan and western India, with winds of 160 kph (100 mph) and gusts of 195 kph (121 mph). Although it weakened as it reached land, the region saw heavy rain, damaging winds, and coastal storm surges in the days leading up to its arrival.
It comes less than a year after unprecedented monsoon rains and melting glaciers destroyed large swaths of Pakistan, killing almost 1,600 people.
According to experts, the storm is also a symptom of the escalating climate problem.
Scientists from the Shenzhen Institute of Meteorological Development and the Chinese University of Hong Kong published a study in Frontiers in Earth Science in 2021 that found tropical cyclones in Asian countries could have twice the destructive power by the end of the century, with scientists claiming that the human-made climate crisis is already strengthening them.
The disaster management body in neighboring Pakistan announced on Friday that the cyclone’s strength is decreasing.
According to the officials, it is predicted to weaken further into a cyclonic storm and finally into a depression by [Friday] evening.
The Pakistan Meteorological Department’s chairman, Sardar Sarfaraz, told Al Jazeera that the storm might bring heavy rainfall to Pakistan’s coastal districts on Friday and Saturday.
The cyclone’s power has significantly decreased, and we expect it to weaken into a depression by the evening. However, the cyclonic effect would generate strong showers and winds in a few regions, ranging from 60 to 80 km/h (37 to 50 mph), he warned.
According to Sarfaraz, the government has urged officials to guarantee that the approximately 82,000 people displaced by the storm are not returned to their homes before Saturday owing to weather conditions.
UNICEF said that over 625,000 children in the two countries were in urgent danger.
Cyclone Biparjoy in Pakistan threatens a fresh catastrophe for children and families in Sindh, the province worst hit by last year’s disastrous floods, according to Noala Skinner, UNICEF’s regional director for South Asia.
Cyclones, which are similar to hurricanes in the North Atlantic or typhoons in the Northwest Pacific, are a common and fatal threat along the northern Indian Ocean coast, where tens of millions of people dwell.
A 2021 research discovered that the frequency, length, and strength of cyclones in the Arabian Sea grew dramatically between 1982 and 2019, and scientists predict that this trend will continue, making natural catastrophe preparations even more critical.