Severe rainfall warning as cyclone develops in Arabian Sea

Cyclone Vayu is strengthening in the Arabian Sea and heading towards western India

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.

A general alert has been sounded across 10 district in Gujarat as wind speeds are likely to touch 170 km per hour, a Home Ministry official said.

The Indian Meteorological Department has said that thunderstorm and lightning accompanied with gusty wind (40-50kmph) is very likely at isolated places in the districts of North Gujarat region including Banaskantha and Sabarkantha today and tomorrow (Thursday).

After the weather warning, the government convened a high-level meeting in which it made a decision to deploy 15 teams of the NDRF (National Disaster Response Force) immediately. The government has evacuated around 3.1 lakh people, and as many as 52 teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) have been deployed for rescue and relief operations. "The cyclone's effect will prevail over Gujarat on June 12, 13 and 14", he added. Rescue teams of State Disaster Response Force, Army, Coast Guard and BSF are also on stand by.

The severe cyclonic storm may cause heavy rainfall in the coastal districts of Gujarat along with storm surge that can cause deluge in the low lying coastal regions of Porbandar, Dwarka, Somnath, Junagarh, Diu, Gir, Amreli & Bhavnagar.

India's biggest oil refinery, owned by Reliance Industries, is in Gujarat, though a company official said the cyclone was expected to weaken by the time it reached the Jamnagar-based refinery.

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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.

Nayara Energy, owned by a consortium led by Russia's Rosneft, said it was monitoring the situation and also taking precautionary measures at its Gujarat refinery.

Gujarat chief secretary and Advisor to Administrator of Diu were present via video conferencing and they apprised the officials about preparatory measures put in place for dealing with cyclonic storm. "Leaves of port and transport employees have been cancelled", said Tomar.

Gujarat has been put on alert. The third special train ran from Veraval to Ahmedabad with 11 coaches at 8 pm Wednesday.

Flight operations will remain suspended at five airports in Gujarat for 24 hours from Thursday 12 AM, the Airports Authority of India announced.

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