Cyclone Phet bears down on Pakistan after hitting Oman
KARACHI: The meteorological department recommended on Friday immediate evacuation from low-lying coastal areas, particularly in Balochistan, as a precautionary measure against Cyclone Phet, which was expected to hit the area on Sunday.
Fishermen's representatives said most boats had returned to the coast. However, they expressed concern over lack of facilities, including food, at relief camps.
One of Karachi's two ports had been evacuated, while the other would be cleared of ships by Saturday morning, the authorities said.
The Meteorological Department's Director-General, Dr Qamaruz Zaman Chaudhry, told Dawn that Balochistan's coastal areas, which are nearer to the Omani coast than those in Sindh, would be buffeted by gusty winds, heavy rains and high waves on Saturday.
He said it was important that communities living in Makran's coastal areas were immediately shifted to safe places.
Dr Chaudhry said Phet, which earlier was classified as 'very severe', had weakened after hitting Oman.
He said the cyclone was likely to veer towards Pakistan, approach the coastal areas on Saturday and make landfall in the early hours of Sunday with 100-120km wind speed and a storm surge of four to six metres.
Sindh will get rains from Saturday till Tuesday. Heavy rains might cause flash flood in Balochistan and Sindh, including Karachi Mr Qamaruz Zaman said.
Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum's chief Mohammad Ali Shah said that only four boats -- three from Jati and one from Hawkesbay, Karachi -- carrying 25 fishermen had not yet returned to the coast. He said over 50 fishing boats belonging to Thatta and Badin with around 1,000 fishermen onboard had been brought from the open sea and moored the Korangi fish harbour, but the people lodged in a camp were not being provided food.
Sindh Provincial Disaster Management Authority's chief Saleh Farooqui told journalists that over 7,000 people had been evacuated from low-lying areas of Thatta and Badin to relief camps.
Arrangements are in place to house over 2.5 million people in camps, Mr Farooqui added.
Over a dozen ships moored at the Karachi Port were told on Friday afternoon to sail out to safe sea away from the outer anchorage.
A spokesperson said ships berthed at Port Qasim were being asked to leave and the last of them would clear the area by Saturday morning.
: The navy continued its relief operation 'Madad', mounted aerial surveillance of the coastal belt and escorted 65 fishing boats to safe places.
According to a media release, the navy has set up relief camps at Keti Bunder and Gungu Jalbani in collaboration with the local administration. A relief headquarters has been set up at Chor Jamali.
A relief goods collection camp has been set up on Karachi's Sharea Faisal, near Hotel Regent Plaza.
Saleem Shahid adds from Quetta:
Coastal areas of Balochistan, including Gwadar, Pasni, Jiwani and Ormara towns, received heavy rain on Friday.
Met department director Saifullah Shami said the cyclone's movement indicated it could change its direction.
"Four to six metre high tides could form in the sea when the cyclone hit Balochistan and Sindh coastal areas."