Pakistan

Pakistan: Cyclone leaves devastation across Balochistan Province

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KARACHI, 27 June 2007 (IRIN) - Cyclone Yemyin which struck coastal areas of Pakistan's Sindh and Balochistan provinces over the past few days has killed over a dozen people and inflicted extensive damage to houses and roads along the coast, leaving structures flattened.

Sixteen people were reported to have been killed in Balochistan, while 32 fishermen who left the Karachi coast on 26 June were feared to have drowned. The cyclone caused winds of up to 130km an hour.

The cyclone tore away chunks of the coastal highway that runs from the southern city of Karachi to Balochistan.

The worst hit areas were the towns of Ormara, Pasni and Gwadar in Balochistan, some 400km west of Karachi, and areas close to them. Hundreds of people in the port town of Gwadar took shelter on hills in the area to escape the furious waves.

Army helicopters rescued 100 people from the town of Gadani in Balochistan, lying about 100km west of Karachi.

Apart from the collapse of hundreds and possibly thousands of houses along the coast, most belonging to fishing communities, the rains and wind disrupted Balochistan's road links with the rest of the country.

Major bridge down

The major bridge linking Quetta, the provincial capital of Balochistan, with Karachi near Bela town on the Balochistan coast, was washed away, leaving at least 600 vehicles stranded on either side. The route is used to supply materials and goods from Karachi to Quetta, and vice-versa.

Panic regarding the cyclone had by 27 June begun to recede, as the metereological office informed people the worst was over. "The people are picking up the pieces of their life, and trying to rebuild houses and other structures," Faheem Ahmed, a trader in the Hub area of Balochistan, about 50km from Karachi, told IRIN.

"The worst affected are poor fishing people and they have no means of coping after such a disaster," added Ahmed.

Karachi spared the worst

Karachi, Pakistan's largest city, was itself spared the worst fury of the cyclone, but, according to the chief weatherman of Sindh Province, Naeem Shah, has received 61 millimetres of rain since 25 June. He said the low-pressure system "would continue to cause moderate to heavy rains".

The massive evacuations, which began on 25 June - with tens of thousands fleeing coastal areas following warnings, and the deployment of Pakistan army troops - helped avert large-scale deaths.

Tariq Ayub, the Sindh Home Secretary, told IRIN the government had "moved quickly" and this had "prevented loss of life". He commended the army and navy for their contribution to the effort.

kh/at/cb

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