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WIND DESTRUCTION

India’s Gujarat may narrowly escape “very severe” Cyclone Vayu

By Nupur Anand

There may be some respite for Gujarat which was bracing for a very severe cyclonic storm today (June 13).

It is now likely that Cyclone Vayu may not hit India’s westernmost state as it has changed its trajectory overnight and moved further into the sea, according to the India meteorological department (IMD). The country’s western coast, however, will remain on high alert as strong winds and rainfall are expected in the next 24-48 hours.

This is said to be the strongest storm to strike northwestern India in decades. In 1998, another cyclone had destroyed Gujarat’s port town of Kandla, killing 1,241 people.

Cyclone Vayu formed in the Arabian Sea on June 10 and strengthened on June 11 into a hurricane-strength tropical cyclone. It made a gradual ascent towards coastal Gujarat until the change of course yesterday.

In the past few days, the state has evacuated over 300,000 people from disaster-prone areas. Fifty-two teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) have been deployed for rescue and relief operations. India’s coast guard, army, navy, air force, and the Border Security Force (BSF) have been put on high alert.

Holidays have been declared for schools and colleges and five of the state’s nine airports are closed. The railways, too, have cancelled over 70 trains.

The government has advised coastal fishermen not venture out into the sea till June 15 and has urged people to follow real-time information being disseminated.

Gujarat is the home state of prime minister Narendra Modi who assured the country yesterday in a tweet that the central government is closely tracking the situation.

Cyclone Vayu comes merely a month after Cyclone Fani ravaged Odisha along the Bay of Bengal. Despite the strength of the storm, the state managed to effectively contain the loss of life, earning it laurels from across the world. Gujarat has now reached out to the Odisha government for tips.