Cyclone Vayu: India on high alert for 'severe cyclone'

Cyclone Vayu in Mumbai

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) warned the cyclone could hold up the progress of annual monsoon rains, as the storm drew rain clouds from over the sea. It will skirt through coast of Veraval, Porbandar and Dwarka.

The IMD said Wednesday that the cyclone has a wind speed of 145 to 155 kmph gusting to 180 kmph and has changed its course, due to which it could now make a landfall between Dwarka and Veraval on the Saurashtra coast. Winds could strengthen to as high as 165 km/h with stronger gusts, potentially making the cyclone the equivalent strength of a Category 2 hurricane, experts said.

India's biggest oil refinery, owned by Reliance Industries, is in Gujarat, though a company official said the cyclone was expected to weaken by the time it reached the Jamnagar-based refinery.

The met office has advised concerned authorities of Sindh province to remain alert in coming days with regard to the impact of Tropical Cyclone Vayu.

Warships and aircraft of the Indian Navy have been kept standby as well. "A ship from the western region has also been diverted to northwest region for the post-cyclone landfall for providing search and rescue requirement and other emergency developing at sea off the Saurashtra and Kutch region", it said.

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Fishermen move a fishing boat to a safer place along the shore ahead of the expected landfall of Cyclone Vayu at Veraval, India, June 12, 2019.

Meanwhile, home secretary Rajiv Gauba on Wednesday chaired a meeting of the National Crisis Management Committee where preparation for relief and rescue operations were discussed threadbare.

Schools and universities in Gujarat state and the Union Territory of Daman and Diu are closed until June 13, according to the BBC.

A defence release said the Army has allotted 24 columns on standby and is ready to carry out any rescue and relief operations. He also informed that almost 2.8 lakh people from the susceptible areas along the coast will be evacuated from 12 June 2019.

"We had earlier planned to shift only those living in kutchha (thatched) houses but in the wake of forecasts that the cyclone could be severe, chose to shift all the people in coastal villages", Rupani said.

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