Thousands in western India relief camps begin returning home as Cyclone Biparjoy recedes
Over 100,000 people who had sheltered from Cyclone Biparjoy in relief camps in western India have begun to return home after the storm weakened and headed toward Pakistan, officials said Saturday.
In the coastal village of Jakhau, where the cyclone made landfall in India’s Gujarat state on Thursday, over 130 people had shifted back to their homes from a government-run shelter by midday Saturday.
India’s powerful home minister, Amit Shah, was expected to visit the village later Saturday and take stock of the situation.
Officials said electricity had been restored in many villages but some were still without power. After the landfall, the cyclone uprooted trees and electricity poles in hundreds of villages along the coastal regions of Gujarat.
“It was very scary and we expected huge damage,” said Amad, a trader who rents boats to fishermen in Jakhau and only uses one name. “But thankfully nature’s wrath was somewhat lighter than we anticipated.”
He said there was no major damage in the village barring uprooting of trees, electricity poles and minor damage to some homes.
The storm had wind speeds of 85 kph (53 mph) and gusting up to 105 kph (65 mph) through the coastal areas of Gujarat.
India Meteorological Department said early Saturday that the cyclone had weakened into a deep depression and was expected to weaken further in the next 12 hours.
The full extent of the damage in Gujarat wasn’t immediately known. A man and his son died on Thursday when they tried to save their livestock in Gujarat state, according to the Press Trust of India news agency. Also, 23 people were injured in various areas, officials said.
The Gujarat government said it deployed 184 rapid action squads to rescue wild animals and clear fallen trees in Gir National Park, home to nearly 700 Asiatic lions.
A 2021 study found that the frequency, duration and intensity of cyclones in the Arabian Sea increased significantly between 1982 and 2019, and experts say the increase will continue, making preparations for natural disasters more urgent.