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Severe cyclone likely to hit India’s west coast, south Pakistan on Thursday


By Rajendra Jadhav

MUMBAI (Reuters) -A storm off India’s west coast has strengthened to become a powerful cyclone and could hit India’s western state of Gujarat and southern parts of Pakistan this week, the weather department said.

The cyclone, named Biparjoy, is expected to make landfall on Thursday afternoon between Mandvi in Gujarat and Karachi in Pakistan with a maximum sustained wind speed of 125-135 km (78-84 miles) per hour, gusting up to 150 km per hour, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said on Monday.

India’s weather office has advised fishing communities to halt operations and the evacuation of people from the coastal areas of Saurashtra and Kutch regions of Gujarat.

Two of India biggest ports – Mundra and Kandla – are in the Gulf of Kutch, while the Jamnagar refinery, the world’s biggest oil refinery complex owned by Reliance Industries, is based in Saurashtra.

The Gujarat Pipavav Port Limited, in a stock exchange filing on Monday, said operations at its Pipavav Port had been suspended since late evening on Saturday due to “prevailing severe weather conditions”.

Seven teams of India’s National Disaster Response Force and 12 teams of State Disaster Response Force have been deployed in the districts likely to be affected by the storm, Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel said in a tweet.

Nearly a dozen districts in coastal Gujarat would be affected by heavy rainfall and gusting winds, although some of the districts are sparsely populated, which would limit the damage, said a weather office official, who declined to be named.

In neighbouring Pakistan, the National Disaster Management Authority said instructions are being given to take precautionary measures in southern and southeastern parts of the country that are likely to be affected.

“Its (the cyclone’s) evolving impact will only be certain with further development of the situation,” the authority said in a statement.

Officials from the Sindh provincial government also said they are preparing to evacuate people from three districts likely to be affected.

Sindh is the second most populated province in the country.

A 1998 cyclone killed at least 4,000 people and caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damage in Gujarat.

Biparjoy delayed the onset of the annual monsoon over the southern state of Kerala, but now conditions are favourable for the progress of much-needed rains in some more parts of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu states, the weather office said.

(Reporting by Rajendra Jadhav, writing by Sakshi Dayal; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan and Philippa Fletcher)

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