Cyclone hits southwest Pakistani coast


  • World
  • Tuesday, 26 Jun 2007

By Faisal Aziz

KARACHI (Reuters) - A cyclone hit the coast of Pakistan on Tuesday, dumping torrential rain over a thinly populated region days after about 230 people were killed when a storm lashed the country's biggest city, Karachi. 

Authorities in Pakistan and neighbouring India have evacuated thousands of people from low-lying areas after weekend storms and flooding killed nearly 400 people across the South Asian region. 

People move away from the Arabian Sea after a wind storm alert by the authorities in Karachi June 25, 2007. A cyclone hit the coast of Pakistan on Tuesday, dumping torrential rain over a thinly populated region days after about 230 people were killed when a storm lashed the country's biggest city, Karachi. (REUTERS/Athar Hussain)

Tropical cyclone Yemyin, packing winds of up to 130 kph roared over the Arabian Sea to the south of Karachi and hit the coast of the southwestern province of Baluchistan, said chief meteorologist Qamar-uz-Zaman Chaudhry. 

"The cyclone hit land near Ormara and Pasni at around 11 a.m. (0600 GMT) and its strength has started reducing," Chaudhry said. 

Ormara is a coastal town 250 km west of Karachi. Pasni is 400 km west of the port city of 12 million people where about 230 were killed on the weekend. 

Officials in Baluchistan said they were having trouble communicating with the affected area. Very heavy rain was falling and there were unconfirmed reports some Hindu pilgrims had been killed, officials said. 

A navy spokesman said two fishing boats had been sunk but it was not known how many people were on board. 

Two other trawlers were in trouble and a merchant ship had sent out a distress call. Two helicopters and a ship had been dispatched to help, the spokesman said. 

BALUCHISTAN TOO 

At least six people were killed in severe weather in Baluchistan on Monday and authorities there said thousands of people were being evacuated from low-lying areas, including from near a dam where the water level had risen dangerously. 

"We can see two threats, one from the cyclone in the coastal belt and the second from torrential rain as water in dams and canals has started touching dangerous levels," said Baluchistan provincial government spokesman Raziq Bugti. 

"There are 200,000 to 250,000 people in the coastal belt and we've started evacuating them to safer sites. Thousands of people have been shifted," he said. 

Police at the newly opened port of Gwadar, west of the point where the storm made landfall, said only light rain was falling. 

Heavy rain fell in Karachi and traffic was thin on its gloomy streets as many people stayed at home. Paramilitary troops were directing traffic at intersections where traffic lights were still out of order after the weekend chaos. 

In neighbouring India, authorities began evacuating tens of thousands threatened by flooding as the toll from havoc wrecked by the arrival of the rainy season topped 150. 

Thousands of villages have been left without basic services in India's worst-hit Andhra Pradesh. 

Indian weather officials forecast heavy rain on both west and east coasts, with a storm in the Bay of Bengal due to hit Andhra Pradesh by Wednesday. 

Hundreds are killed each year, and hundreds of thousands are forced from their homes, in the South Asian rainy season. Though deadly, the rain is vital for agriculture and national economies. 

In 1965, a cyclone hit Karachi and killing 10,000 people. 

(Additional reporting by Kamran Haider and Zeeshan Haider) 

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