Gandhinagar/Ahmedabad, June 12: Triggered by a warmer Arabian Sea and acquiring moisture from the southwest monsoon, cyclone Vayu on Wednesday got more intense with forecasts revising its wind speed up to 155 km-165 km per hour and gusting at 180 km when it touches the Gujarat coast on Thursday afternoon.
More than 3 lakh people were evacuated to safety with scores of buses and three special trains pressed into service. According to the Indian Meteorological Department, the cyclone changing its course a bit, could now make a landfall between Dwarka and Veraval on the Saurashtra coast.
IMD Ahmedabad Director Jayant Sarkar told reporters that the cyclone could now hit the Gujarat coast on Thursday afternoon, instead of early morning.
Flight operations from Ahmedabad's Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport to Porbandar, Diu, Kandla, Mundra and Bhavnagar in the Saurashtra have been cancelled for Thursday, while all educational institutions have been shut and tourists on the Gujarat coast asked to steer out at the earliest, officials said.
Three evacuation special trains were being pressed into service -- one from Okha in Saurashtra to Rajkot and two trains with 21 coaches for Ahmedabad after 8.05 p.m., Western Railway PRO Pradeep Sharma told IANS.
Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, who had a review meeting with the state administration at the State Emergency Operations Centre, told reporters that the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) had upgraded the possible wind velocity from up to 120 km per hour till Tuesday evening to 155 to 165 km per hour and gusting at 175 km per hour.
"We had earlier planned to shift only those living in kutchha (thatched) houses but in the wake of forecasts that the cyclone could be severe, decided to shift all the people in coastal villages," Rupani said.
The Chief Minister added that there was no other option but to evacuate the maximum number of people to safety. "The government's success would be in zero death," he said.
Rupani said more than 1.20 lakh people had been shifted by around noon and many more would be moved by the evening.
Officials said as many as 47 National Disaster Response Force and others had arrived in Gujarat. On Tuesday, the Indian Air Force airlifted 160 NDRF jawans from Vijaywada to Jamnagar, while the NDRF announced on Wednesday that 12 more teams will be airlifted from INS Rajali (Tamil Nadu) and Patna (Bihar) to help people in Gujarat and neighbouring Union Territory of Diu.