Cyclone Biparjoy less than 200 km from Gujarat coast; 74,000 evacuated

Jakhau: Cyclone Biparjoy is less than 200 kilometres from the Gujarat coast and its impending landfall on Thursday evening, along with the anticipated heavy rain and storm surge, have led to the evacuation of 74,000 people living in vulnerable areas, authorities have said.

The administration has shifted people from nearly 120 villages located between zero and 10 km from the seashore in Kutch district.

According to the India Meteorological Department (IMD), Biparjoy is expected to make landfall near Jakhau port as a “very severe cyclonic storm” with maximum wind speed reaching up to 150 kilometres per hour.

The IMD said that the intensity of rainfall will increase as the powerful weather system approaches the coast, with isolated places in Kutch, Devbhumi Dwarka and Jamnagar districts likely to witness extremely heavy rainfall.

“VSCS Biparjoy over Northeast Arabian Sea at 0230 hours IST of 15th June, 2023 about 200 km west-southwest of Jakhau Port (Gujarat). To cross Saurashtra & Kutch and adjoining Pakistan coasts between Mandvi and Karachi near Jakhau Port by evening of 15th June as a VSVS,” IMD said in its latest update on the cyclone.

Gujarat health minister Rushikesh Patel said 72 villages are located between zero and 5 km from the coast in the Kutch district, while another 48 sit between 5 km and 10 km from the shore.

“We have evacuated around 40,000 people from these coastal villages,” the minister said.

So far 74,345 people have been moved to temporary shelters in eight coastal districts of Kutch, Jamnagar, Morbi, Rajkot, Devbhumi Dwarka, Junagadh, Porbandar and Gir Somnath, the government has said.

As per the government, 15 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.

Apart from local administration and police, four teams of NDRF and five teams of SDRF, Army, Coast Guard and BSF (Border Security Force) are on standby for rescue and relief post-cyclone, he said.

“Elaborate arrangements have been made by us for post-cyclone work like restoration of electricity infrastructure, mobile networks and other infrastructure,” he said.

Meanwhile, the famous Dwarkadhish temple in Devbhumi Dwarka and Somnath temple in Gir Somnath district will remain closed on Thursday for devotees and visitors, said an official release.

A storm surge of about 2-3 metres above the astronomical tide is likely to inundate low-lying areas of the districts that are likely to be affected due to the landfall. The tides could rise up to 3-6 metres in some places, the IMD has said.

This will be the second cyclone to hit the state in two years after ‘Tauktae’ in May 2021.

The Western Railway has said that 76 trains have been cancelled, 36 short-terminated and 31 short-originated as a precautionary measure to ensure the safety of passengers and train operations.