Cyclone Biparjoy has finally weakened after wreaking havoc in western India and southern Pakistan this week, killing at least six people and a trail of destruction, meteorologists said.
Biparjoy, the only third tropical cyclone to hit western India in 60 years, intensified into a “very violent cyclonic storm” before making landfall in the Kutch region of Gujarat near the Pakistani border on Thursday evening.
It brought terribly high tides, very heavy rains, thunderstorms and devastating gusty winds to the state and neighboring Pakistani province of Sindh, with its effects felt as far away as Mumbai and Balochistan.
Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel claimed there was no loss of life in the state due to the cyclone. However, two deaths have been reported in what authorities say are weather-related cases after Biparjoy made landfall.
The Associated Press said the dead included a man and his son who died while trying to save their livestock in Gujarat state.
About 23 people have also been injured while more than 100 animals have died since the storm made landfall. Earlier, four deaths were reported amid strong winds and rains in Maharashtra and Gujarat as the storm was still offshore.
India and Pakistan evacuated more than 180,000 people combined before the storm landed, as the cyclone left large swathes of coastal land inundated.
On Saturday morning, people started returning to their homes, but the extent of the damage in both countries is still being assessed.
The storm knocked out power to nearly 1,000 villages, damaged homes, flooded roads and threw shipping containers overboard.
Officials in Gujarat have started work on restoring damaged power lines and other repair works, but the state remains under weather alert, according to the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), even though the storm has weakened in a depression off the coast.
Videos on social media show strong gusts of wind uprooting trees, overturning cars and blowing away roofs. Critical roads and infrastructure were also damaged in Gujarat, which suffered the worst damage.
The storm brought winds of 85 km/h, gusting up to 105 km/h across the coastal regions of western Gujarat.
Biparjoy was the first tropical cyclone to threaten India’s west coast in recent years and the first major disaster to hit Pakistan’s Sindh region since it suffered devastating floods last year that killed 1,700 people . Many survivors of these floods were among the hardest hit by the heavy rains brought by Biparjoy.
The World Bank and international charities said they were still helping flood victims in the area when the cyclone hit, and warned the population remained highly vulnerable to subsequent disasters.
“Pakistan has already faced an unrelenting series of disasters and economic setbacks over the past year,” said Arshad Muhammad, director of the charity Mercy Corps Pakistan, before landing.
“Many are still displaced and increasingly vulnerable to storms like Cyclone Biparjoy.”
Earlier Unicef estimated that some 625,000 children were at immediate risk in Pakistan and India.
“In Pakistan, Cyclone Biparjoy threatens a new crisis for children and families in Sindh, the province worst hit by last year’s devastating floods,” said Noala Skinner, UNICEF Regional Director for South Asia.
The Indian meteorological department said Cyclone Biporjoy set a record for the longest surviving storm over the Arabian Sea, lasting more than 10 days. Cyclone Kyarr in 2019 had a lifespan of nine days, he said.
Recent studies show that tropical storms in the Arabian Sea are getting stronger and wetter as the world continues to warm due to man-made greenhouse gas emissions.
A 2021 study found that the frequency, duration and intensity of cyclones in the Arabian Sea increased dramatically between 1982 and 2019, and experts say this increase will continue as the world continues to warm. .