As a powerful cyclone makes landfall, gale-force winds and torrential rains are lashing the coasts of north-west India and southern Pakistan.
Before the approach of Cyclone Biparjoy, more than 170,000 people in the two nations were evacuated to safety. It could be the region's worst storm in 25 years, according to forecasters, who warn that it poses a threat to homes and crops in its course.
The cyclone is expected to pass through portions of the Indian state of Gujarat and the Pakistani province of Sindh. Cyclone Biparjoy, which means "disaster" in Bengali, is predicted to strike the coast near Jakhau port, between Mandvi in Gujarat and Keti Bandar in Sindh, between Jakhau and Jakhau port. From Karachi to Gujarat, the disaster management agency of Pakistan warned of storm surges as high as 3-4m (10-13ft) along the coastline.
The official in charge of relief operations in Gujarat, Alok Pandey, stated earlier that the cyclone's intensity had decreased, but that wind speeds were still anticipated to be "very dangerous" at around 110-125 km/h (68-78mph) at the time of landfall. The Indian military and coast guard have prepared ships, helicopters, and aircraft for rescue and relief operations.
Earlier this week, at least seven fatalities were reported in India due to heavy rainfall. The AFP news agency reported that the victims included two children buried by a collapsing wall and a woman riding a motorcycle who was struck by a falling tree.
The storm is anticipated to strike the coast of Sindh province in Pakistan. The authorities have evacuated 81,000 individuals from the southeast coast and established 75 relief centers in schools.
Ms. Rehman stated that Karachi, the largest city in Pakistan with a population of more than 20 million, was not immediately threatened, but that emergency measures were being implemented. Meteorologists cautioned that high tides could flood low-lying coastal areas.
Since Wednesday, Mandvi and other coastal regions of Gujarat have experienced torrential rainfall and strong winds. Officials from the state of Gujarat reported that 94,000 people were evacuated from coastal areas. Several train services have been suspended in Gujarat, and two of India's main ports, Kandla and Mundra, have ceased operations, according to authorities. Along the coast of Gujarat, fishing has been suspended, and fishermen in Pakistan's coastal region have been warned to stay ashore.
Sources in Gujarati reported that the government of Gujarat has established control rooms to monitor the welfare of Asiatic lions in Gir forest and coastal areas. The only natural habitat of the Asiatic lion is the Gir forest. In critical areas of Gujarat, 18 national disaster relief teams and 12 state disaster relief teams have been deployed for relief efforts. Depending on the severity of the cyclone, they will concentrate on ensuring that essential services remain unaffected or are restored as soon as possible.
The India Meteorological Department anticipates that Biparjoy will weaken as it proceeds inland. In the Indian Ocean, cyclones, also known as hurricanes in the North Atlantic and typhoons in the north-west Pacific, are a common and fatal occurrence. As a result of climate change, the Arabian Sea's surface temperature has risen in recent years, making the adjacent regions even more susceptible to devastating storms.