Gandhinagar/Ahmedabad, June 13 (IANS) As a more intense Cyclone Vayu is racing towards Gujarat, triggered by a warmer Arabian Sea and acquiring moisture from the southwest monsoon, nearly 3 lakh people have been evacuated to safer places.
The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) on Wednesday evening revised its forecasts and stated the cyclone is likely to make a landfall between Dwarka and Veraval on Thursday afternoon, instead of morning, with a wind speed up to 155 km-165 km per hour and gusting at 180 km.
Expressing their concern, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah tweeted that the Centre was keeping close contact with the Gujarat administration and was worried about the cyclone situation there.
Amit Shah tweeted, “As #CycloneVayu is expected to cross Gujarat coast between Porbandar & Diu, I pray for the safety of the people. MHA is in continuous touch with State Governments/UT and Central Agencies. NDRF has pre-positioned 52 teams.”
According to the Western Railways, “In addition to the earlier 15 trains, 25 more mainline trains have been cancelled, while in addition to the earlier 16 trains, 12 other mainline trains will be short terminated with partial cancellation as a precautionary measure in the #VayuCyclone prone areas.”
Meanwhile, authorities informed that “27 flights destined for Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport have been diverted till 19.50 hours today.”
The Airports Authority of India (AAI) announced that flight operations will remain suspended at five airports in Gujarat for 24 hours from Wednesday midnight in order to minimise the damage to airport infrastructure and to avoid inconvenience to passengers due to Cyclone Vayu.
The impact of the cyclone was already being felt, not only in the coastal districts of Saurashtra region, but across Gujarat with increased wind speeds and light to heavy showers at several places.
As many as 57 talukas (tehsils) have received light to heavy showers in the state, officials said.
Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, who held a late night review meeting at the State Emergency Operations Centre, told reporters that “more than 2.75 lakh people had been moved to safer places and police teams everywhere were looking for people in low-lying areas and more people may be evacuated during the course of the night.”
Rupani informed that “all the ports in the state (11 ports) have already been vacated.”
Scores of buses and three special trains have been pressed into service to move people to safety. According to the IMD, with the cyclone changing its course a bit, it could now make a landfall between Dwarka and Veraval on the Saurashtra coast.
IMD Ahmedabad Director Jayant Sarkar told reporters that the cyclone could now hit the Gujarat coast on Thursday afternoon, instead of early morning.
Flight operations from Ahmedabad’s Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport to Porbandar, Diu, Kandla, Mundra and Bhavnagar in the Saurashtra region have been cancelled for Thursday, while all educational institutions have been shut and tourists on the Gujarat coast have been asked to steer out at the earliest, officials said.
Three special evacuation trains were being pressed into service, one from Okha in Saurashtra to Rajkot, and two trains with 21 coaches for Ahmedabad after 8.05 p.m., Western Railways PRO Pradeep Sharma told IANS.
Rupani told reporters that the IMD had upgraded the possible wind velocity from up to 120 km per hour till Tuesday evening to 155 to 165 km per hour and gusting at 175 km per hour.
“We had earlier planned to shift only those living in ‘kutchha’ (thatched) houses, but in the wake of forecasts that the cyclone could be severe, we decided to shift all the people from coastal villages,” Rupani said.
“The government’s success would be in zero death,” he said.