Wed, Jun 27, 2007 - Page 5 News List

Thousands flee Pakistani coast as cyclone kills 10

AP AND AFP , QUETTA AND GWADAR, PAKISTAN

At least 10 people drowned and thousands fled to higher ground yesterday as a tropical cyclone lashed Pakistan's coastline with heavy rains and high winds, officials said.

At least three small boats were reported to have sunk and 18 fishing boats were missing as the navy sent a warship and two helicopters to scour the rough seas in search of vessels caught up in the storm.

Cyclone Yemyin hit the coast of Baluchistan Province yesterday afternoon, bringing gusting winds, heavy rain and a storm surge of up to 7.5m.

Rain-swollen rivers flooded several coastal districts, killing at least 10 people, including four children, said Raziq Bugti, a spokesman for the provincial government.

Spillways were opened to release the water pressure on two dangerously full dams, he said.

Private emergency services said that two Hindu pilgrims on their way to a shrine had drowned after becoming trapped in a rainwater drain in Lasbella district near the coast overnight, while 15 others were stranded or missing.

It was not clear if the two pilgrims were included in the 10-person death toll.

Officials said the storm's intensity was decreasing and would subside by evening, but not before dumping heavy rains that could last through the night.

Officials declared an emergency in the southwestern port city of Gwadar.

Most of the city's 120,000 moved to higher ground, Gwadar Mayor Abdul Ghaffar Hoth said.

"We have imposed an emergency in the district and asked the army and other forces to be on alert," Hoth said.

In the nearby coastal village of Gador 550 families -- equivalent to around 3,000 people -- had been evacuated after sea water entered their homes, mayor Aslam Gador said.

Meanwhile, in Karachi, city authorities were scurrying to repair power cables snapped by a massive storm last Saturday, which have caused widespread power outages.

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