Vayu is the deadliest storm to hit the state since 1998, when a cyclone had ravaged the port town of Kandla, killing 1,241 people.
The cyclone is expected to pack wind speeds of 155-165kmph, gusting up to 180 kmph, and is moving at a speed of 16 kmph. It is projected to hit the coast between Dwarka and Porbandar, west of Veraval, by 3pm.
“After making a landfall, it will move parallel to the Saurashtra-Kutch coast and affect Amreli, Gir Somnath, Diu, Junagadh, Porbandar, Rajkot, Jamnagar, Kutch and Dwarka,” Jayanta Sarkar, director, IMD-Gujarat, told TOI .
Meanwhile, five people died of lightening strikes in Dang, Tapi and Narmada districts late on Tuesday evening, as gushing winds and rain hit the region with the approach of the cyclone.
The cyclone could potentially cause damage in districts of Amreli, Porbandar, Devbhoomi Dwarka, Junagadh, Gir-Somnath, Jamnagar and Kutch.
Vayu will barrel through the state for four days beginning today and remain a severe cyclonic storm on June 15 when it moves northwards.
NDRF members seen inside the IAF C-17 aircraft as it lands at Jamnagar, in Gujarat (PTI)
State and central agencies raced against time to shift villagers to safety and step up efforts to minimise the damage to life and property. Around 10,000 tourists and pilgrims in Dwarka, Porbandar and Somnath were also shifted out of the towns in specially arranged buses.
As many as 2.81 lakh people in 500 coastal villages were shifted to safer locations as the state and central agencies stepped up efforts to minimize damage to life and property. Around 10,000 tourists and pilgrims in Dwarka, Porbandar and Somnath were also shifted out of the towns in specially arranged buses.
State-run Pashchim Gujarat Vij Company Ltd (PGVCL), which supplies electricity to entire Saurashtra, has formed 634 teams that are equipped to restore power supply that could be snapped due to uprooting of poles.
The Airports Authority of India will suspend operations at five airports – Porbandar, Diu, Bhavnagar, Keshod and Kandla – for 24 hours from Wednesday-Thursday midnight due to the approaching storm. AAI has also asked Indian Air Force to suspend civil flights from Bhuj and Jamnagar defence airports. It is reviewing if flight operations can continue at Surat airport.
The state began reeling under the cyclone’s impact with several parts of Saurashtra and south Gujarat beginning to get moderate to heavy rainfall. Extremely squally weather prevailed in the coastal towns and dust storms hit visibility, especially around the famed Somnath temple adjoining Veraval. The sea was extremely rough with waves of 10-15 feet hammering the coast.
Chief minister Vijay Rupani made a fervent appeal to people to shift from vulnerable areas. “Considering the forecast of very heavy rain and stormy sea conditions, there is possibility of flash floods in the coastal areas. We have directed all district collectors to ensure 100% evacuation in the 10 km areas from the coast.”
While praying for safety and well-being of those affected, Prime Minister Narendra Modi advised people to follow the real-time information being provided by local agencies to stay safe.