NEW DELHI :
Cyclonic storm Vayu continued to intensify on Tuesday as it hurtled towards coastal Gujarat, prompting authorities to put these areas on high alert. It is expected to cross Gujarat coast between Porbandar and Mahuva around Veraval and Diu early morning on Thursday.
The cyclonic storm formed over the east-central Arabian Sea at 11.30pm on Monday and lay centered in the sea about 490km south-southwest of Mumbai and 630km nearly south of Veraval in Gujarat at 11.30am on Tuesday, according to the latest forecast by the India Meteorological Department (IMD).
“Vayu is likely to move nearly northwards and hit the Gujarat coast between Porbandar and Mahuva around Veraval and Diu region as a severe cyclonic storm with wind speed of 110-120kmph gusting to 135kmph early morning on Thursday," read an IMD statement.
IMD has issued a “red" warning for heavy and widespread rainfall for Saurashtra and Kutch region for Thursday. Coastal Karnataka, Kerala, Konkan, Goa, and south Gujarat are expected to receive widespread rainfall over the next three days. High waves in the range of 3.5 to 5.3 metres are forecast along the coasts.
The low-lying coastal areas of Porbandar, Junagarh, Gir Somnath, Kutch, Devbhoomi Dwarka, Diu, Bhavnagar, and Amreli districts could be inundated with a storm surge of height of 0.5 metres above the astronomical tides at the time of landfall early on Thursday.
Gujarat and Diu administration plan to evacuate about 300,000 people from the identified vulnerable areas from Wednesday morning. The evacuated people would be shifted to around 700 cyclone relief shelters.
The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has positioned 39teams equipped with boats, tree-cutters and telecom equipment in the coastal areas in Gujarat and Diu. Additionally, 34 teams of Indian Army have been put on standby. Indian Coast Guard, Navy, and Air Force units have also been put on standby and surveillance aircraft and helicopters are carrying out aerial surveillance, the home ministry said.
Shaswati Das contributed to this story.