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Miracle Evacuations: Cyclone Biparjoy Spares Lives in India and Pakistan

Image credits: Reuters

Cyclone Biparjoy, a powerful tropical storm, slammed into India’s western state of Gujarat and the southwest coast of neighboring Pakistan. But the mass evacuations and elaborate preparations in both the countries appeared on Friday to have saved lives. The low death toll from the cyclone, compared to similar storms that hit the region previously, was seen as a vindication of the mass evacuations.

Early identification of areas that were likely to be impacted by the cyclone and timely evacuation of people living within 10 km of the coasts are the biggest reasons for the low number of casualties. India alone moved more than 100,000 people to safety, while 82,000 people were evacuated in Pakistan. Both countries shut down businesses and transport in coastal areas that fell in the predicted path of the cyclone.

Image credits: The Associated Press

The cyclonic winds knocked down more than 5,000 electricity poles, cutting power to more than 4,600 villages across Gujarat. But power was restored to about 3,500 of those villages by Friday afternoon. More than 500 houses were damaged and about 800 trees were uprooted, many of which blocked traffic on at least two state highways for hours Friday morning.

Biparjoy, which means “disaster” in the Bengali language, made landfall Thursday evening in India’s port city of Jakhau as the equivalent of a Category-3 hurricane. While the toll in human lives was relatively low for a major storm, the cyclone still carved a path of destruction as it churned inland over the course of the night, dropping a huge amount of rain and packing winds that gusted up to 86 miles per hour.

The cyclone largely spared Karachi, Pakistan’s port city of over 20 million people, which was in the forecast path of the storm. But heavy rain and strong winds damaged thatched houses and inundated a few regions along the country’s southern coast. Authorities said more heavy rains could be expected in some coastal areas until Saturday.

Biparjoy has become the longest-lasting cyclone ever to form over the Arabian Sea, lasting more than 10 days and overtaking Cyclone Kyarr of 2019, which lasted nine days. Cyclones, which are known as hurricanes when they form over the North Atlantic and typhoons in the northwest Pacific, are common in the Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea.

The fact that no deaths were reported in Pakistan and only two people died in India is a miracle. The early identification of areas that were likely to be impacted by the cyclone and timely evacuation of people living within 10 km of the coasts is a testament to the strength and resilience of the people of India and Pakistan. It is also proof that when governments work together and prioritize the safety of their citizens, they can achieve great things.

In conclusion, it is important to note that while the damage caused by Cyclone Biparjoy is significant, the fact that so many lives were spared is a miracle. The people of India and Pakistan have shown us that when we work together and prioritize the safety of our citizens, we can overcome even the most devastating of natural disasters.


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