Fast approaching cyclone forces evacuation of 75,000 people on India’s west coast

By Sumit Khanna

AHMEDABAD, India (Reuters) – Authorities in India’s western state of Gujarat evacuated more than 75,000 people from vulnerable coastal communities as Cyclone Biparjoy was expected to land from the Arabian Sea to make landfall on Thursday evening.

As of early Thursday, the cyclone was centered 180 km (112 miles) off the port of Jakhau in Gujarat and 270 km (168 miles) off Karachi in Pakistan, India’s Meteorological Department said.

The storm appears to have lost some of its intensity and is expected to have a maximum sustained wind speed of 115 to 125 km/h (71 to 78 miles per hour) with gusts to 140 km/h, down from 150 km /h estimated by IMD. Wednesday.

“We have evacuated more than 75,000 people from the eight coastal districts of Gujarat which are expected to be affected by the cyclone,” said Kamal Dayani, additional chief secretary of Gujarat’s revenue department.

Temporary thatched-roof houses could be completely destroyed while standing crops, plantations and roads are expected to sustain significant damage, IMD said in a statement on Wednesday, adding that railways could also be disrupted.

Pakistan’s Climate Change Minister Sherry Rehman said on Wednesday that Karachi, a port city of 20 million people, was not under immediate threat, but emergency measures were being taken to deal with the winds and rain that are expected to hit the economic hub.

(This story has been reclassified to correct a typographical error in the title)

(Reporting by Sumit Khanna; Writing by Shilpa Jamkhandikar; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

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