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Cyclone Vayu inches closer, more than 1.6 lakh people evacuated

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Ahmedabad : Parts of Gujarat are bracing for impact from strengthening Cyclone Vayu, which is expected to slam into the state early Thursday, even as authorities shifted around 1.60 lakh people on the coast to safer places.

People from low-lying areas of Saurashtra and Kutch regions have been evacuated, state officials said Wednesday.

Operations at ports and airports in these regions have been suspended as precautionary measure, officials said.

As per the latest weather report, cyclone Vayu, which has turned into a 'very severe cyclonic storm', has changed its course slightly and would now hit Gujarat coast anywhere between Veraval in the south and Dwarka in the west in the afternoon Thursday, officials said.

The cyclone is now situated around 280 km south of and is very likely to move nearly northwards and cross Gujarat coast between Dwarka and Veraval as a "very severe cyclonic storm" with wind speeds of 155-165 kmph gusting to 180 kmph around afternoon of Thursday, a release by the Meteorological Centre said.

After making the landfall, the cyclone is likely to move along and parallel to Saurashtra and Kutch coast, it said.

An alert was sounded in 10 districts of Gujarat as the cyclone has turned "very severe" and its impact is expected to remain strong for 24 hours even after its landfall Thursday, officials said.

Over 50 teams of the National Disaster Management Relief Force (NDRF), comprising around 45 rescuers each, have been moved to the state, while 10 columns of the Indian Army have been kept on stand-by.

Warships and aircraft of the Indian Navy have also been kept standby as well, officials said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi Wednesday advised people in his home state to follow real-time information being provided by local agencies to stay safe.

"Praying for the safety and wellbeing of all those affected by Cyclone Vayu. The government and local agencies are providing real-time information, which I urge those in affected areas to closely follow," Modi said in a tweet.

As a precautionary measure, holiday has been declared in schools, colleges and 'anganwadis' (government-run women and child care centres) on June 12 and June 13 in these 10 districts.

The cyclone is likely to damage thatched houses, blow away rooftops and metal sheets, disrupt power and communication lines and cause major damage to roads and crops, the weather department said.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Tuesday reviewed the preparations in his home state and directed officials to ensure all possible steps for the safety of people.

The state government Wednesday said the cyclone is likely to affect Kutch, Morbi, Jamnagar, Junagadh, Devbhoomi- Dwarka, Porbandar, Rajkot, Amreli, Bhavnagar and Gir-Somnath districts.

After a review meeting with officials, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani Wednesday said around 3 lakh people living in low-lying areas of these 10 districts are being shifted to safer places.

People evacuated will be kept at shelters created in government buildings and those owned by various trusts and NGOs.

As a precautionary measure, the Railways announced that all the trains for this region have been either short terminated or cancelled for two days, starting from 6 pm Wednesday.

As all airports in Kutch and Saurashtra region have been asked to shut their operations, flights to these destinations from Ahmedabad Airport stand cancelled for Thursday, an official said.

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