Indian authorities evacuated tens of thousands of people yesterday as a severe cyclone in the Arabian Sea approached the western state of Gujarat, lashing the coast with high winds and heavy rainfall.
Cyclone Vayu, named after the Hindi word for wind, was poised to hit the Gujarat coast early Thursday as India’s second major storm of the season. Winds gusting up to 170 kilometers per hour were forecast and a storm surge up to 2 meters above astronomical tides, which would inundate low-lying areas, according to the India Meteorological Department.
K. Sathi Devi, the New Delhi-based government scientist in charge of monitoring the cyclone, said a low-pressure system over the ocean was causing water to “get piled up.” When the storm makes landfall, so will the accumulated seawater, she said, threatening to flood roads and uproot trees, contaminate drinking water supplies, and disrupt communications and power supplies.
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, a rescue worker from India’s National Disaster Response Force warned children to leave the beach.
After India’s home minister, Amit Shah, held a meeting Tuesday with government and military officials, the air force airlifted 40 National Disaster Response Force rescue and relief teams to the western coast.
Both Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi hail from Gujarat.
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.
By midday, rescue team had begun evacuating more than a quarter of a million people in towns and villages likely to bear the brunt of the storm. Emily Schmall, New Delhi, AP