New Delhi: The Gujarat coastline is bracing for impact from “very severe” Cyclone Vayu, which is expected to make landfall in the early hours of Thursday near Veraval in Gir Somnath district. People from low-lying areas of Saurashtra and Kutch regions have been shifted to around 700 cyclone and relief shelters.
According to a release issued by the India Meteorological Department (IMD) on Wednesday evening, the cyclone is expected to cross the Gujarat coast between Dwarka and Veraval as a ‘Very Severe Cyclonic Storm’. Wind speed of 155-165 kmph, gusting to 180 kmph, is expected in the afternoon, it added.
An alert has been sounded in 10 districts of Gujarat since the cyclone’s impact is expected to remain strong for 24 hours even after its landfall, said officials.
Normally, a cyclone weakens after landfall.
#CycloneVayu is very likely to move nearly northwards and cross Gujarat coast between Dwarka and Veraval as a Very Severe Cyclonic Storm with wind speed 155-165 kmph gusting to 180 kmph around the afternoon of 13th June 2019.IMD pic.twitter.com/d9B7VTpSn7— NDMA India (@ndmaindia) June 12, 2019
Authorities have evacuated about 3.1 lakh people living in the low-lying areas of Gujarat and Diu and the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has pre-positioned 52 teams, equipped with boats, tree-cutters and telecom equipment, for rescue and relief operations, said Union Home Minister Amit Shah.
"Gujarat has evacuated about three lakh people and Diu has evacuated over 10,000 people from low-lying areas to safer places... the Ministry of Home Affairs is in continuous touch with state governments/Union Territory and central agencies,” he said.
Shah said the Indian Coast Guard, Navy, Army and the Air Force units have been put on standby while aircraft and helicopters are carrying out aerial surveillance.
Gujarat has evacuated about 3 lakh people and Diu has evacuated over 10,000 people from low lying areas to safer places. Indian Coast Guard, the Navy, Army & Air Force units have also been put on standby. Aircrafts and helicopters are carrying out aerial surveillance.— Amit Shah (@AmitShah) June 12, 2019
Union Earth Sciences Minister Harsh Vardhan said officials of his ministry have been providing timely alerts regarding the impending cyclone.
A total of 10 columns of the Army, each comprising 70 persons, have been deployed in Jamnagar, Gir, Dwarka, Porbandar, Somnath, Morbi, Bhavnagar, Rajkot and Amreli, while another 24 columns have been put on standby to carry out rescue and relief operations, said a defence release.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) has also positioned the medium lift and light utility helicopters at nodal points in the state to undertake disaster relief operations.
The Indian Coast Guard (ICG) has deployed ships and aircraft to enable search and rescue post the landfall.
Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba on Wednesday chaired a meeting of the National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC) where preparation for relief and rescue operations were discussed.
The meeting took stock of the precautionary measures taken by the Gujarat government and the Diu Union Territory administration with a view to ensure that no human life is lost, damage to vital infrastructure is minimised, and to ensure early recovery of all essential services post-cyclone landfall.
Diving and rescue teams and relief material have been kept on standby for rendering assistance to civil authorities as required, said another official.
Medical teams and facilities at the Indian Naval hospital in Mumbai are on standby to handle medical emergencies.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday advised people to follow real-time information being provided by local agencies to stay safe.
Praying for the safety and well-being 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.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) June 12, 2019
Flights and trains affected
The Airports Authority of India announced that flight operations will remain suspended at Porbandar, Diu, Bhavnagar, Keshod and Kandla 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 the cyclone.
"Equipment and heavy machinery have been moved to safety at respective airports and the Airport Directors of AAI's Bhuj and Jamnagar airports have been asked to write to the Indian Air Force to suspend operations of civil flights from these two airports also," the AAI said in a statement.
The AAI said "a decision in respect of suspending operations at AAI's Surat Airport will be taken after analysing the weather".
Nearly 400 flights at Mumbai airport were also affected on Wednesday due to bad weather caused by the cyclone. An airport official said as many as 194 departing flights and 192 arrivals were delayed in the wake of the bad weather. At least two flights were diverted from the city.
The Western Railway (WR) has also decided to short-terminate or cancel some of its trains passing through areas likely to be affected by the cyclone.
All WR passenger and mail trains to Veraval, Okha, Porbandar, Bhavnagar, Bhuj and Gandhidham stations were either terminated early or cancelled from 6 pm on Wednesday till Friday morning, said WR chief spokesperson Ravinder Bhakar.
The WR has decided to cancel operation of 40 mainline trains while 28 similar trains will be short-terminated with partial cancellation as a precautionary measure.
The WR has also planned to run a special train each from Gandhidham, Bhavnagar Para, Porbandar, Veraval and Okha to evacuate people from those areas.
Special trains with six to 10 coaches each will also be kept ready at the nearest safe location to be moved in emergency conditions, the WR said.
(With inputs from agencies)