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Cyclone kills 10, strands hundreds in Pakistan

A cyclone hit the coast of Pakistan on Tuesday killing several people, cutting roads and stranding hundreds.

world Updated: Jun 26, 2007 21:01 IST
Faisal Aziz

A cyclone hit the coast of Pakistan on Tuesday killing several people, cutting roads and stranding hundreds, but it spared the country's biggest city days after about 230 people were killed there in a storm.

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.

Tropical cyclone Yemyin, packing winds of up to 130 kph roared over the Arabian Sea to the south of Karachi and hit the thinly populated coast of Baluchistan province at about 11 am.

The storm hit land between Ormara, 250 kms west of Karachi, and Pasni, 400 kms west of the port city of 12 million people -- Pakistan's biggest city -- where about 230 were killed at the weekend, many by wind that brought down slum houses.

Cyclone Yemyin dumped torrential rain but weakened rapidly as it moved inland, said chief meteorologist Qamar-uz-Zaman Chaudhry.

Officials in Baluchistan province said thousands of people had been evacuated from low-lying areas, including from near a dam where the water level had risen dangerously. Communications with the worst-affected area was difficult, they said.

At least 10 people, including four children, had been killed on Monday and Tuesday, said provincial government spokesman Raziq Bugti. Some houses and crops were also damaged, he said.

The storm had also washed away several bridges and some sections of a highway along the coast, officials said.

"About 400 people are stranded on the highway and we're trying our best to airlift some relief goods and food to them. At this point, there's no other way to reach them," said provincial official Syed Waqar Ali Asad.

Officials said some Hindu pilgrims visiting a temple had also been stranded by the weather but they were safe.

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

Nineteen fishermen from two other boats had been rescued, while a rescue ship had been sent to help a merchant ship and a tug with it, he said.

No incidents in Karachi

Police at the newly opened port of Gwadar, west of the point where the storm made landfall, said some residents had evacuated their homes on Monday night but most later returned.

"Light rain is falling but I have received no reports of any loss of life in my area," said police chief Asim Khan.

Heavy rain fell in Karachi and traffic was thin as many people stayed at home. But provincial officials and emergency services said there had been no major incidents.

The weather over southern Pakistan should be largely clear over Tuesday night and fishermen should be able to head back to sea on Wednesday, the Meteorological Department said.

In neighbouring India, authorities have been 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, killing 10,000 people.

(Additional reporting by Kamran Haider and Zeeshan Haider)