Union Home Minister Amit Shah said on Wednesday evening that the Gujarat administration has evacuated three lakh people and Diu over 10,000 people from low-lying areas, in view of Cyclone Vayu that is set to make landfall in the state on Thursday.
“Indian Coast Guard, the Navy, Army and Air Force units have also been put on standby,” Shah tweeted. “Aircrafts and helicopters are carrying out aerial surveillance.”
The cyclone is likely to affect Kutch, Morbi, Jamnagar, Junagadh, Devbhoomi-Dwarka, Porbandar, Rajkot, Amreli, Bhavnagar and Gir-Somnath districts. Shah said that 52 teams of the National Disaster Response Force have been pre-positioned with the necessary equipment to carry out rescue operations.
The India Meteorological Department earlier on Wednesday upgraded the severity of Cyclone Vayu, which is advancing towards Gujarat. “Cyclone Vayu has turned into a very severe cyclonic storm,” said the weather department. The cyclone is located about 280 km south of Gujarat’s Veraval coast and 360 km south of Porbander in Gujarat, the weather department said in its evening weather bulletin.
It is likely to move northwards and cross Gujarat coast between Dwarka and Veraval with a wind speed of 165 km per hour to 180 km per hour around Thursday afternoon, the weather department added.
Western Railway has announced that all trains passing through the coastal areas have either been short- terminated or cancelled for two days, from 6 pm on Wednesday. Western Railway also said that three special trains are scheduled to run in Rajkot division, Bhavnagar division and Veraval to evacuate people from coastal areas in Gujarat. As many as 40 trains have been cancelled and 28 short-terminated.
More than 10,000 tourists to Dwarka, Somnath, Porbandar and Diu have been sent back through state transport buses, Firstpost reported.
The Airports Authority of India, in a tweet, said it has decided to suspend flight operations at airports in Porbandar, Diu, Bhavnagar, Keshod and Kandla for 24 hours.
National Disaster Response Force teams are evacuating people living on the west coast with the help of the Indian Air Force, an unidentified official had told PTI earlier in the day.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said earlier in the day that the Centre was in touch with state governments. “The Central Government is closely monitoring the situation due to Cyclone Vayu in Gujarat and other parts of India”, he tweeted. “I have been constantly in touch with state governments. NDRF and other agencies are working round the clock to provide all possible assistance.”
The prime minister said he was 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,” he added.
Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani said he held a review meeting with officials on the preparedness of state administration at the State Emergency Operation Centre in Gandhinagar. “Instructed district collectors to leave no stone unturned to counter any adverse situation,” he tweeted.
The Odisha government offered help to Gujarat to fight the impact of the cyclone, PTI reported. “Gujarat Chief Secretary [JN Singh] had called me up and discussed the measures to be taken ahead of the landfall,” said Odisha Chief Secretary AP Padhi. “We have offered all kind of help to Gujarat. However, the Gujarat chief secretary has said that they will seek further help if required keeping in view the situation.”
Congress President Rahul Gandhi asked all party workers to be prepared to help people in areas affected by the cyclone. “Cyclone Vayu is nearing the Gujarat coast,” Gandhi tweeted in Hindi. “I appeal to all Congress workers to be prepared to help out in all the areas that come in the cyclone’s way. I pray for the security and well-being of all the people in the areas that will be affected by the cyclone.”
Meanwhile, a dust storm hit parts of New Delhi in the evening.
Windy day, rains in Mumbai, parts of Maharashtra
Meanwhile, Mumbai and coastal areas of Maharashtra experienced a windy Wednesday, with rainfall in some places. Big waves lashed Devbaug village in Maharashtra’s Sindhudurg district. The weather department said the Arabian Sea has turned turbulent and bigger waves are advancing towards coastal areas because of the cyclonic storm.
A pedestrian was killed at Mumbai’s Churchgate railway station when a portion of the Mahatma Gandhi mural installed there fell on him.