Cyclone Vayu: Thousands evacuated as tropical storm heads for India’s Gujarat coast

Cyclone Vayu: Thousands evacuated as tropical storm heads for India's Gujarat coast
Cyclone Vayu: Thousands evacuated as tropical storm heads for India’s Gujarat coast

Indian authorities have evacuated hundreds of thousands of people in preparation for the second major storm of the season currently barrelling towards its northwest coast. 

Cyclone Vayu is expected to make landfall in Gujarat state, on India’s western coast on the afternoon of June 13.

As the tropical storm hits it’s expected to bring with it potentially damaging winds gusts of up to 112 mph, and sea surges of up to 6.5 ft that could flood low-lying coastal areas. 

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The cyclone, named the Hindi word for wind, was then forecast to skirt around India’s coast as it travelled west towards Pakistan, retaining its strength for up to 12 hours. 

The severe weather follows just over a month on from when the devastating storm, Cyclone Fani, hit India’s eastern coast on the Bay of Bengal killing 34 in India and 15 in neighbouring Bangladesh. 

The scale of the possible damage from the latest cyclone wasn’t clear, but meteorologists predicted it had the potential to damage thatched homes, flood key routes, damage crops, uproot trees, contaminate drinking water supplies and disrupt communication and power. 

Local authorities were on high alert on Wednesday as they prepared for the storm which was building in the Arabian sea. 

Home minister Amit Shah, held a meeting with government and military officials, as the air force airlifted 40 National Disaster Response Force rescue and relief teams to the western coast in preparation for the cyclone hitting. 

An India Meteorological Department scientist monitors Cyclone Vayu inside his office in Ahmedabad, India. (REUTERS)

By midday, on Wednesday rescue teams had begun evacuating more than a quarter of a million people in towns and villages likely to bear the brunt of the storm. 

In the ancient city of Dwarka, where many Hindu pilgrims travel every year to pray at a temple considered the center of Lord Krishna’s kingdom, rescue workers from India’s National Disaster Response Force warned children to leave the beach. 

Meanwhile, Gujarat’s chief minister, Vijay Rupani, requested tourists leave coastal areas by Wednesday afternoon. 

And India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Twitter that he had “been constantly in touch with state governments” and that he was “praying for the safety and wellbeing” of all those affected.

Additional reporting by Associated Press 

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