Ahmedabad: Moving north-westwards, Cyclone Vayu on Thursday afternoon started skirting the Saurashtra coast in Gujarat while heavy rains which lashed the coastal areas were likely to continue till the evening, the Indian Meteorological Department said.
As was feared, the 'severe cyclonic storm' did not make landfall in Gujarat but was passing over the Saurashtra region, affecting Amreli, Gir Somnath, Diu, Junagarh, Porbandar, Rajkot, Jamnagar, and Dwarka districts, bringing widespread rainfall with heavy to very heavy rains.
Pankaj Kumar, Additional Chief Secretary, said that although the IMD has informed that the cyclone has changed its course, "it may still cause heavy winds and rains, and so we are still on stand-by mode".
"Cyclone Vayu is 110 kilometres from Veraval to the south-west and 150 kilometres from Porbandar to the south. The cyclone is moving towards the north and was crossing over Saurashtra," he said.
The Chief Minister's Office in Gujarat said Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to Chief Minister Vijay Rupani immediately after reaching Bishkek for the SCO Summit and inquired about the cyclone preparedness and assured all assistance and support from Centre to mitigate the effects of the storm.
Skymet Weather had earlier stated that the 'Very Severe Cyclone' might weaken into a Category 1 Cyclonic Storm from Category 2, though the wind speed will be 135-145 kms per hour gusting up to 175 kms per hour.
Gujarat has, meanwhile, already evacuated over 3.1 lakh people and the Union Territory of Diu that touches the Saurashtra coast has moved over 10,000 people to safety.
The Coast Guard has stated that the cyclone would take up to Saturday before it completely moves over into the sea at Dwarka.
Iqbal Singh Chauhan, DIG of Coast Guard, Porbandar, told reporters that, "The next 50-60 hours will be very important for Gujarat." He said all fishermen and coastal residents were requested to shift to safer places if they had not done so.
Those living in 'katcha' (thatched) houses were advised to take shelter at the relief camps set up by the Gujarat government as the sea was expected to surge to about 1-1.5 metres.
"I want to inform all the citizens of India that the pre-emptive steps taken by the administration, government agencies and armed forces will ensure that there is no loss of life," Chauhan said.
Meanwhile, the Western Railways have cancelled as many as 70 trains from the Saurashtra and Kutch regions, while 28 trains had been short terminated.
According to Western Railways PRO Pradeep Sharma, special relief trains had been started to supply essential commodities to the areas that are affected and move people to safer places. Hundreds had been shifted through state transport buses.
According to the Airports Authority of India, the impact of the cyclone has been mild at most airports in Gujarat and no damage has been caused to the infrastructure of aerodromes.
Flight operations at airports in Porbandar, Diu, Bhavnagar, Keshod and Kandla had already been suspended since midnight of Wednesday.