Officials in Pakistan said Tuesday that "precautionary evacuations" were underway to move thousands of people out of the path of a "very severe cyclonic storm" approaching over the northeast Arabian Sea.
The tropical cyclone named Biparjoy, is about 470 kilometers south of the port city of Karachi and 460 kilometers south of Thatta district.
The Pakistani meteorological department said that Biparjoy was traveling with maximum sustained winds of up to 150 kilometers per hour and gusts up to 170 kilometers per hour, with a maximum wave height of more than 9 meters.
The United Nations said the latest forecast suggests the cyclone is expected to make landfall Thursday afternoon between Karachi and neighboring India's Gujarat coastline.
"It is estimated that approximately 9,000 households (approx. 55,000 people) are at risk of direct impact. There is a high risk of coastal flooding in various districts as the cyclone progresses and reaches the coastline,” the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in a statement.
The agency noted the cyclone is expected to impact communities across 10 Pakistani districts.
"Karachi will likely face urban flooding given the scale & intensity of winds. Precautionary evacuations in Seaview areas have begun," tweeted Sherry Rehman, Pakistan's minister for climate change and environment.
Rehman told a news conference in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad that more than 25,000 people had already been evacuated to temporary shelters, adding that the evacuation process will be completed by Thursday morning.
The provincial government of Sindh, of which Karachi is the capital city, announced on Monday that an emergency had been declared and relocation of more than 80,000 people to safety had begun with the help of the Pakistani army.
Authorities warned fishermen not to venture in open sea until the cyclone is over — likely by June 17.
Authorities in India are also bracing for the powerful cyclone, where four boys drowned after venturing into rough seas in Mumbai as Indian authorities began evacuating people from western coastal areas on Tuesday.
Biparjoy — which means disaster or calamity in the Bengali language -is an "extremely severe cyclonic storm" — the second-highest category used by the Indian Meteorology Department to classify tropical storms.
Northeastern India will also experience heavy rainfall during the next five days. In addition, weather forecasters say heatwave conditions are likely over parts of northwestern, eastern, and northern peninsular India over the next three to five days.