Over 60, 000 people evacuated in Pak as 'Phet' approaches

      With the cyclone 'Phet' threatening to hit Pakistan's coastline during the next 24 to 36 hours, emergency services in the country have been pressed into service. Over 60,000 people have been shifted to safer locations from vulnerable coastal villages in the Sindh province and other adjoining regions. President Asif Ali Zardari has already directed the military and concerned government authorities to take "immediate precautionary measures" as the tropical cyclone closes in towards the country. The meteorological department is keeping a close watch on Phet's route and has warned that heavy rains accompanied with winds blowing at over 100 kilometres per hour could smash Sindh and Balochistan in the next few hours. "Cyclone Phet has almost reached the Oman coast and could recurve towards Pakistan's coastline of Balochistan and Sindh in the next 24-36 hours," a weather department official said. Pakistan's Maritime Security Agency has asked fishermen to stop all their activities and keep out of high seas. Officials said that hospitals have been put on alert, and necessary medicines and equipments, along with ration and clothes are being arranged. "We have shifted hundreds of people to relief camps established in school buildings in the area," The Dawn quoted Munir Memon, a senior official of the Sindh relief commission, as saying. "We have a better infrastructure and improved health facilities in Karachi which makes the city much safer from such catastrophes," he added. The Pakistan Navy has also sounded an alert for search and rescue operations. It has pressed two helicopters to keep a close watch on the situation.

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