Vayu to give Gujarat a miss

Safely ashore:Fishermen shifting their fishing boats during high tide at Veraval as Cyclone Vayu hit Gujarat coast.Vijay SonejiVijay Soneji  

The deadly cyclonic storm Vayu that brought life to a standstill in coastal Saurashtra and threatened to cause extensive damage in Gujarat upon its landfall has changed course.

The authorities are, however, not taking any chances. They are continuing with all the precautionary measures as light rains accompanied by strong winds lashed Saurashtra coast since Thursday morning.

For the next two days, heavy to very heavy rains are likely from Veraval to Dwarka. Places such as Dwarka, Junagarh, Naliya and Rajkot will see heavy rains along with high velocity winds. High waves inundated low lying areas in coastal towns like Porbandar, Veraval and Mangrol.

“Cyclone Vayu’s effect will be seen in the coastal regions, as there will be heavy wind speed and heavy rain as well,” Manorama Mohanty of the Met Department said.

The “very severe cyclonic storm” moved north-northwestwards in the night over the Arabian Sea and lay centred around 110 kilometres from the coast.

“The cyclone is very likely to move north-northwestwards for some time and then northwestwards skirting the Saurashtra coast, affecting Gir Somnath, Diu, Junagarh, Porbandar and Devbhoomi Dwarka with wind speed 90-100 kmph gusting to 110 kmph during the next 12 hours,” the IMD said in a release issued late on Thursday evening.

To remain in shelters

“We have been informed about diversion in the path of the very severe cyclone... We are continuing to be in alert mode and all the steps that have been initiated will stay in force,” Chief Minister Vijay Rupani told media persons on Thursday evening. He said more than 2.5 lakh people who were shifted from low lying areas will stay in shelters on Thursday and will be sent back home on Friday, depending upon the situation.

Modi speaks to CM

Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to Mr. Rupani and took stock of the situation in his home State, after reaching Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan for the SCO Summit, a government release said.

Some large refineries owned by Reliance Industries and Nayara Energy were put on alert. Operations at ports in Kandla and elsewhere were halted. All ports hoisted signal 9, indicating warning for a cyclonic storm.

More than 30 National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) teams were deployed in all 10 coastal districts in Saurashtra. Since all the airports in Kutch and Saurashtra have been asked to stop their operations completely, flights to these destinations from the Ahmedabad airport stand cancelled.

According to private weather broadcaster Skymet, Vayu would encounter an anti-cyclone over North Arabian Sea after crossing the Gujarat coast. As a result, the system might become stagnant near Karachi coast.

There are chances that cyclone Vayu will not make a landfall and weaken in the sea itself.

(With inputs from PTI)