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Pakistani coastal areas brace for Cyclone Phet

By the CNN Wire Staff
Fishing boats are seen moored at a harbour along the Arabian Sea in Karachi on Thursday.
Fishing boats are seen moored at a harbour along the Arabian Sea in Karachi on Thursday.
  • Pakistani authorities alert fishermen near Karachi to dangerous seas
  • Cyclone Phet already striking Oman
  • 14 families evacuated to higher ground by helicopter
  • Pakistan

(CNN) -- Pakistani authorities dispatched Navy helicopters Thursday to alert fishermen near Karachi and parts of Balochistan to the expected arrival of Cyclone Phet and to urge them to return to shore, the state-run Associated Press of Pakistan reported.

Navy units were on high alert should they be needed in the aftermath of the cyclone, which had already started striking the coast of Oman.

Fourteen families marooned Thursday by high tides were evacuated by helicopter to higher ground, said Pakistani Chief of Naval Staff Adm. Nauman Bashir.

Civilians along Pakistan's coast will receive priority in the relief effort, dubbed "Operation Madad," should it be needed, he said.

The Pakistan navy secured its ships near the threatened areas, Deputy Chief of Naval Staff (Operations) Vice Adm. Abass Raza told reporters in Islamabad.

"All the assets of Pakistan navy are safe and necessary precautionary measures have been taken to ensure their safety in case cyclone Phet hits the coastal areas of country," he said.

In neighboring India, the Indian Meteorological Department called Phet a "very severe" cyclone and said it had remained nearly stationary Thursday over the west-central Arabian Sea.

In a posting at 11:30 p.m. (2 p.m. ET) on its website, the department said Phet was centered about 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) southwest of Karachi, Pakistan, and 350 kilometers (217 miles) south-southeast of Sur, in Oman.

Winds were sustained at 120 - 130 kilometers per hour (75 - 81 miles per hour) and were gusting to 140 kph (87 mph). They were expected to retreat gradually to 70-80 kph (44-50 mph) by Monday.

The department predicted the system would move Friday northward across the coast of Oman, then weaken gradually before emerging Saturday in the northwest Arabian Sea headed toward the coast of Pakistan.

Seas "will be rough to very rough" along and off the coast of Gujarat, India, and the north Arabian Sea, the department said.