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

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Revising its forecasts, the IMD said Cyclone Vayu is likely to move North-Northwest for some time and then Northwest-wards, skirting the Saurashtra coast of Gujarat with a wind speed 135-145 kmph from this afternoon.

As the very severe cyclonic storm "Vayu" is inching closer to Gujarat coast and expected to make a landfall on June 13, the Army, the Indian Air Force (IAF), and the NDRF teams are deployed and put on standby for rescue and relief operations along the coastal districts.

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.

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India's Home Minister Amit Shah reviewed the preparedness of relevant state and central ministries to deal with Cyclone Vayu and its aftermath. The cyclone is likely to affect Kutch, Morbi, Jamnagar, Junagadh, Devbhoomi-Dwarka, Porbandar, Rajkot, Amreli, Bhavnagar and Gir-Somnath districts.

The state's chief minister, Vijay Rupani, has asked India's military and its National Disaster Response Force for help with rescue and relief efforts if the cyclone causes widespread damage and disruption.

"Mobile communication vehicles have also been positioned at nodal points and communication support groups have also been formulated at the air bases in Gujarat to handle potential contingencies", the South Western Air Command headquarters of the Indian Air Force said.

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The threat of Cyclone Vayu hitting Gujarat may have receded with the storm changing course overnight, but as the state prepared for the worst on Wednesday and evacuated over three lakh people, a minister firmly refused to shut the Somnath Temple.

People from the likely affected areas will be evacuated today. "The government and local agencies are providing real-time information, which I urge those in affected areas to closely follow", he said in a tweet. In addition, the rescue teams of Army, Coast Guard, SDRF and BSF are also in the readiness. Arrangements have been made to warn people of the cyclone through announcements in media and bulk SMS.

Western Railway has cancelled the operation of around 77 mainline trains, while 33 other mainline trains will be short terminated with partial cancellation as a precautionary measure in the cyclone-prone areas.

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The state government is also taking steps to protect animals.