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Cyclone poised to hit Gujarat

June 13, 2019 00:00:00

NEW DELHI, June 12 (AP): Indian authorities were bracing on Wednesday for a severe cyclone gathering strength in the Arabian Sea that was expected to make landfall in the western state of Gujarat as India's second major storm of the season.

Cyclone Vayu, named after the Hindi word for wind, was poised to hit the Gujarat coast early Thursday. Winds gusting up to 170 kilometres (106 miles) per hour were forecast and a storm surge up to two metres (6.5 feet) above astronomical tides, which would inundate low-lying areas, according to the India Meteorological Department.

After India's home minister, Amit Shah, held a meeting on Tuesday with government and military officials, air force planes carried 39 National Disaster Response Force teams to the western coast.

By midday they had begun evacuating more than a quarter of a million people living in towns and villages likely to bear the brunt of the storm.

By contrast more than a million people were evacuated ahead of Cyclone Fani, which hit India's eastern coast on the Bay of Bengal in May, killing 34 people in India and 15 in neighboring Bangladesh.

Authorities in the eastern state of Odisha, where Fani made landfall, were praised for precautionary measures that likely prevented a much higher death toll.

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