KARACHI - In view of its intensity, Pakistan’s Meteorological Department has classified cyclone Nilofar as “very severe”.

According to Pakistan Meteorological Department officials, the strength of cyclone Nilofar has been intensified and is said to be equivalent to that of a hurricane.

“This is evident from the wind speed which, initially 90-100 knots, is gusting up to 110 knots,” they said.  hey have changed the classification of the cyclone from ‘severe’ to ‘very severe’.

The officials said cyclone would move in the northwest direction today with a speed of 6km/hour and its arrival in the adjoining coastal areas of lower Sindh and Indian Gujrat is expected on Wednesday. The lower Sindh region including the port city of Karachi and coastal areas of Balochistan should expect to receive widespread rain and heavy showers. Heavy rain and showers will be accompanied by strong gusty winds, between Wednesday and Friday. The Pakistan coast will experience very rough sea conditions during Wednesday and Friday.

FISHERMEN ADVISED NOT

TO VENTURE IN OPEN SEAS

Authorities in Pakistan have advised the fishermen not to venture into open seas from Wednesday onward. Those already in open sea were advised to return to coastal areas as early as possible.

Officials said the cyclone Nilofar started developing in the northwest Arabian Sea five to seven days ago. They said the cyclone was likely to continue to move west-northwest direction towards the Oman coast over the next 24 to 36 hours.

“It will then re-curve north-eastward and is likely to hit Indian Gujarat and Rann of Kutch and southeast Sindh (Nagarparkar, Mithi, Chor, Umerkot, Chachro and Islamkot), bringing heavy rain/thundershowers with isolated heavy falls at some places accompanied by strong gusty winds between Wednesday and Friday,” they said.

Cyclone ‘Nilofar’ was named by Pakistan as it was its turn in an alphabetical order. Pakistan is included in the list of Northern Indian Ocean names and other member countries are Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Mayanmar, Oman, Sri Lanka and Thailand. Previously Oman had named cyclone ‘Hudhud’ which slammed India’s coast earlier this month.

Moreover, the Sindh Home Department has imposed Section 144 in the province, banning picnicking, sailing and buying eatables, toys and riding on horse, camels and motorcycles close to the beach throughout the coastal lines of the Sindh including Karachi, Thatta, Sajawal and Badin till November 2. The department has also imposed complete ban on swimming, fishing and other activities in the sea for a period of 30 days with immediate effect.

Home Secretary Niaz Ali Abbasi also wrote letters to Karachi commissioner and KMC administrator to immediately take necessary action for removing the shaky signboards and billboards from the City to avoid any loss of human life and property. He also directed shifting the people, living in makeshift houses established at the coastal lines, to safer places. He said all possible measures should be taken to avert loss of life and property.

Meanwhile, Inter-Provincial Coordination Minister Riaz Hussain Pirzada informed the National Assembly on Tuesday that National Disaster Management Authority and Provincial Disaster Management Authority of Sindh are ready to meet any eventuality in the wake of cyclone Nilofar.

Replying to points raised by Dr Fehmida Mirza and others, he said the meteorological office was monitoring the situation and issued proper directions to the concerned departments including Sindh and Balochistan governments and coastal guards. He said the Sindh government had been asked to shift the people from low lying areas particularly in Badin and Thatta to safer places to avoid losses.  As many as 80 authorities including civil and military are on the same page to avert the possible harm expected due to cyclone ‘Nilofar’ which is likely to hit the City on October 30, claims the administration.

Karachi Commissioner Shoaib Siddiqui along with Administrator KMC Rauf Akhtar Farooqui, Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KWSB) Managing Director Qutubuddin Sheikh, PDMA Director General Salman Shah and Chief Met Officer Tauseef Alam held an emergent press conference to inform the precautionary steps taken by the city administration.

Addressing a press conference, Chief Metrology officer Tauseef Alam said in Karachi the wind speed is 30 to 35 nautical miles while all the belt of Karachi including Defence, Malir and Korangi had the 25 to 35mm wind speed. He added heavy rain is expected with thunderstorm in the City on Thursday afternoon.

Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) Director General Salman Shah said the government had directed all the authorities concerned including Pakistan Navy, Pakistan Coast Guards and others to evacuate 0.3 million people living around the coastal belts of Thatta, Badin, Sajawal and other areas and setting up camps in the premises of schools.

Karachi Metropolitan Corporation Administrator Rauf Akhter Farooqui said all inappropriate billboards must also be removed before cyclone, adding the KMC and the Cantonment Boards have made joint efforts in this regard. To a question, he said billboards’ removal work had been started on Tuesday evening, however, he was unaware that how many billboards were installed in the city.

The commissioner said the channelization of nullahs in specific areas including Korangi, Ibrahim Haidry, Malir and Mubarak Village had also been started.

Following the threat, the Cantonment Board Clifton (CBC) has removed 40 inappropriate billboards. They have issued notices to all the advertising companies to submit report regarding their respective billboards installed around the DHA and CBC premises. The CBC has also established the master control room at Sea View while at least 30 lifeguards and enforcement personnel have also been deployed around the beach.