Cyclone Vayu will make landfall in Gujarat today: Officials brace for storm, hold massive evacuation exercise

With Cyclone Vayu expected to cross Gujarat coast between Dwarka and Veraval on Thursday, authorities on Wednesday undertook a massive evacuation exercise in the coastal areas. Home Minister Amit Shah said about three lakh people were evacuated by evening from low-lying areas in Gujarat and Diu, and 52 National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams had been pre-positioned for rescue and relief operations.

Earlier on Wednesday, Gujarat revenue department's Additional Chief Secretary Pankaj Kumar said that 500 coastal villages had been evacuated by the officials.

A total of 36 NDRF teams have been deployed, and 11 other teams are on stand-by in Gujarat, Kumar said. "Nine SDRF teams, 14 companies of State Reserve Police and 300 marine commandos have also been deployed. Nine helicopters have been placed at strategic points. Ten thousand tourists have also been shifted," he said.

Amit Shah said on Twitter while Gujarat had shifted about three lakh people, Diu moved 10,000 people from low-lying areas to safer places. "Indian Coast Guard, the navy, army and air force units have also been put on standby. Aircrafts and helicopters are carrying out aerial surveillance," he said.

According to the India Meterological Department (IMD), Cyclone Vayu will cross Gujarat coast between Dwarka and Veraval as a 'very severe cyclonic storm' with wind speed 155-165 kilometres per hour around Thursday afternoon.

On Wednesday, the NDRF led the evacuation efforts and held awareness sessions in various parts of Gujarat.

In the afternoon, Union home secretary Rajiv Gauba chaired a high-level meeting in Delhi to review the preparedness of state and central agencies. The meeting was attended by senior officers from Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Defence, Department of Telecom, Ministry of Power, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), Integrated Defence Staff, India Meteorological Department (IMD) and NDRF.

Gujarat chief secretary and Advisor to Administrator of Diu were present via video conferencing and they apprised the officials about preparatory measures put in place for dealing with cyclonic storm.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged people living in vulnerable areas to follow real-time information being provided by the government and local agencies.

40 trains cancelled, 28 others short-terminated

The Western Railway cancelled 70 trains and short-terminated 28 others due to Cyclone Vayu. "Considering the alertness for Cyclone Vayu over Gujarat, the Western Railway has decided to fully cancel operation of 70 mainline trains, while 28 other mainline trains will be short terminated with partial cancellation as a precautionary measure in the cyclone prone areas," it said in a statement.

 Cyclone Vayu will make landfall in Gujarat today: Officials brace for storm, hold massive evacuation exercise

A waves crashes as people stand on boats on the Arabian Sea coast in Gujarat's Veraval. PTI

It also decided to run special trains, including one in Rajkot division and one in Bhavnagar division, to clear passengers of coastal areas.

The first special train ran from Okha at 6 pm on Wednesday for Rajkot with 11 coaches and the second special train with 20 coaches ran from Okha to Ahmedabad at 8.05 pm. The third special train ran from Veraval to Ahmedabad with 11 coaches at 8 pm.

Flight operations suspended

The Airports Authority of India (AAI) announced that flight operations will be suspended at five airports — in Porbandar, Diu, Bhavnagar, Keshod and Kandla — in Gujarat for 24 hours from midnight Wednesday in order to minimise the damage to airport infrastructure and to avoid inconvenience to passengers due to Cyclone Vayu.

"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 that "a decision in respect of suspending operations at AAI's Surat Airport will be taken after analysing the weather".

An alert was sounded in 10 districts of Gujarat as Cyclone Vayu turned "very severe" on Wednesday and its impact is expected to remain strong for 24 hours even after its landfall on Thursday, officials told PTI.

Vayu is likely to cause heavy rainfall in the coastal districts of Gujarat along with storm surge, which may cause inundation in the low-lying coastal areas of Dwarka, Porbandar, Junagarh, Diu, Gir, Somnath, Amreli and Bhavnagar districts at the time of landfall.

With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: Jun 13, 2019 09:00:33 IST