50,000 shifted to makeshift shelters; cyclone Bipajoy landfall on Thursday

Mandvi/Ahmedabad:¬†Authorities have so far shifted 50,000 people from coastal areas of Gujarat to temporary shelters ahead of the expected landfall of powerful cyclone ‘Biparjoy’ near Jakhau port in Kutch district.

With the cyclone barrelling towards the Gujarat coast, parts of the Saurashtra-Kutch region received heavy rains accompanied by strong winds.

Nine talukas in Devbhumi Dwarka, Jamnagar, Junagadh, Porbandar and Rajkot districts received more than 50 mm of rainfall in the 24 hours ending on Wednesday morning.

The India Meteorological Department said Biparjoy was set to change the path on Wednesday and begin moving north-eastwards towards Kutch and Saurashtra and have a landfall on Thursday evening near Jakhau Port.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Wednesday spoke to the three service chiefs and reviewed the preparations of the armed forces to deal with the impact of the cyclone.

After reviewing the preparations, Singh said the armed forces are ready to provide every possible assistance to civil authorities in tackling any situation or contingency that may arise due to the cyclone.

The Gujarat government has undertaken the exercise to evacuate people living in villages within a 10 km radius of the coast, with a special focus on Kutch which is likely to be worst affected by the cyclone.

The evacuation is in progress and is expected to be completed by Wednesday evening, officials said.

“The cyclone is nearly 290 km away from Kutch at present. As a precautionary measure, we have already shifted nearly 50,000 people living in coastal areas to temporary shelters. The evacuation process is still on and the remaining 5,000 persons will be shifted by this evening to safer places” said State Commissioner of Relief, Alok Kumar Pandey.

Of the 50,000-odd evacuees, nearly 18,000 people were shifted to shelters in Kutch district while others were evacuated from Junagadh, Jamnagar, Porbandar, Devbhumi Dwarka, Morbi and Rajkot, Pandey told reporters in Gandhinagar.

He said 18 teams of NDRF (National Disaster Response Force), 12 teams of SDRF (State Disaster Response Force), 115 teams of state road and building department, and 397 teams of the state electricity department have been deployed in different coastal districts.

“Officials of departments of Electricity and Road & Building have also reached designated spots to restore connectivity and power supply. We have also deployed teams carrying HAM Radio sets and satellite phones in the coastal region for better communication,” said Pandey.

Indian Army, Navy and Border Security Force (BSF) have also joined rescue and relief operations.

Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel held a meeting with the state chief secretary and senior officers at the State Emergency Operation Centre (SEOC) and reviewed preparedness.

In coastal districts, authorities removed more than 4,000 hoardings as wind speed has increased.

Shelter homes have been set up in government schools and offices in coastal districts, with arrangements for food, drink and medicine.

“Besides, adequate medical staff and necessary quantities of supplies, including medicines, have been made available in health centres and at government and private hospitals located at nearby places,” officials said.

Several parts of the Saurashtra-Kutch region witnessed heavy rainfall accompanied by strong wind, the Met department said.

In Devbhumi Dwarka district, Khambhaliya taluka received 121 mm rainfall, Dwarka 92 mm and Kalyanpur 70 mm in the last 24 hours ending on Wednesday morning, the SEOC said.

The IMD stated that the intensity of rainfall would increase as the cyclone approaches the Gujarat coast on June 15, with the isolated places in the districts of Kutch, Devbhumi Dwarka and Jamnagar likely to witness extremely heavy rainfall during this period.

A few places in Porbandar, Rajkot, Morbi, Junagadh, and the remaining districts of Saurashtra and north Gujarat region are also likely to receive heavy to very heavy rainfall on Thursday, it said.

The met department has also forecast light to moderate rainfall with heavy to extremely heavy rainfall at isolated places over north Gujarat districts and adjoining south Rajasthan on Friday.

“As the cyclone crosses the Gujarat coast on Thursday evening, isolated places in Porbandar, Morbi, Rajkot, Jamnagar, and Kutch will receive heavy to very heavy rainfall with isolated extremely heavy rainfall. Devbhumi Dwarka may receive heavy to very heavy with isolated extremely heavy rainfall on Wednesday,” said Ahmedabad IMD director Manorama Mohanty.

At 8:30 am, the cyclone moved slowly northwards with a speed of 3 kmph and lay centred around 280 km west-southwest of the Jakhau Port (Gujarat), 290 km west-southwest of Devbhumi Dwarka, 300 km west-southwest of Naliya, 350 km west-northwest of Porbandar, and 340 km south-southwest of Karachi (Pakistan), the IMD said.

As per the Met department, wind speed will reach 65-75 kmph gusting to 85 kmph along and off the coasts in districts of Porbandar and Devbhoomi Dwarka from Wednesday forenoon.

The wind speed will gradually increase to 125-135 kmph gusting to 150 kmph on Thursday along and off the districts of Kutch, Devbhumi Dwarka, Porbandar, Jamnagar, Rajkot, Junagarh and Morbi.

Sea condition is likely to be very rough till the evening of Wednesday along the Saurashtra and Kutch coasts and “high to phenomenal” till the evening of Thursday before becoming normal.

A storm surge of about 2-3 metres above the astronomical tide is likely to inundate low-lying areas of the affected districts during the time of landfall. The tides could be up to 3-6 meters in different places, the Met department said.