A powerful cyclone that is headed towards India and Pakistan has forced more than 100,000 people to flee its path as forecasters warned on Wednesday that it might destroy homes and knock down power lines.
According to government weather monitors, Biparjoy, which means “disaster” in Bengali, is currently moving over the Arabian Sea and is anticipated to reach landfall as a “very severe cyclonic storm” on Thursday evening.
Between Mandvi in Pakistan and Karachi in India, a 325 km (200 mi) stretch of coast was expected to be battered by strong winds, storm surges, and torrential rains.
The storm, according to the Indian Meteorological Department, is expected to make landfall late on Thursday near the port city of Jakhau and will cause “total destruction” to traditional mud- and straw-thatched homes.
Forecasters reported that winds at sea were already gusting up to 180 kilometres per hour (112 miles per hour).
By the time it reaches shore, wind speeds are expected to be between 125 and 135 km/h, with gusts as high as 150 km/h.
“Over 47,000 people have been evacuated from coastal and low-lying areas to shelter,” said C.C. Patel, an official in charge of relief operations in Gujarat.
More were expected to be moved inland throughout Wednesday.
India’s meteorologists warned of the potential for “widespread damage”, including destruction of crops, “bending or uprooting of power and communication poles” and disruption of railways and roads.
On Wednesday, Mandvi’s streets were largely deserted save for a few stray dogs that were prowling around abandoned beach shacks adjacent to huge, rolling waves under strong winds and overcast skies.
The state administration of Gujarat released images showing rows of people boarding buses inland away from the areas that were expected to be most severely affected while clutching little bags of things.