Pakistanis Evacuate as Cyclone Phet Approaches

Thousands of Pakistanis are being evacuated by the government as Cyclone Phet, which battered the coast of Oman this morning, approaches the country's coastline.

Pakistani officials have estimated that some 500,000 people could be affected when Phet hits the country.

"We are doing everything possible to cope with the situation. We could begin moving people away if there is immediate danger," Muhammad Hassan Baloch, head of the disaster management authority in the province, told IRIN.

Although downgraded to a Category 1 storm, Phet brought flooding to the Oman city of Muscat on Friday, hitting the capital with winds as high as 125 mph. No casualties have been reported.

Some 60,000 people have already been moved from coastal Pakistan to temporary relief camps. Navy units are reportedly on high alert in case they are needed after the cyclone hits.

In 2007, Cyclone Yemyin killed 250 Pakistanis and left over a million homeless. The province of Sindh, which was devastated by Yemyin, has already reported heavy rains from Phet.

The storm is expected to make landfall near Karachi, Pakistan on Sunday.

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