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74,000 people evacuated to safer places as Cyclone Biparjoy expected to hit Gujarat today

The authorities have evacuated more than 74,000 people from Gujarat's coastal region as cyclone Biparjoy is expected to hit the Kutch today (Pic. Courtesy ANI)

Over 74,000 people have been evacuated to safer places from Gujarat’s coastal region as cyclone Biparjoy is expected to hit the Kutch district today evening at a speed of 120-130 km per hour. The highest Orange alert has been issued for districts in the state that are likely to be affected.

Cyclone Biparjoy is currently about 200 km off the coast of Gujarat. It will strike Saurashtra and Kutch near Jakhau Port between 4-8 pm, according to the India Meteorological Department (IMD). Adjoining areas of Pakistan will also be hit by the cyclone.

Classified as a “very severe cyclonic storm” of category 3, Biparjoy is likely to carry a maximum wind speed of 120-130 kmph, IMD said.

The intensity of rain will increase as cyclone Biparjoy approaches the Gujarat coast, with some areas in Porbandar, Rajkot, Morbi, Junagadh and the remaining districts of Saurashtra and North Gujarat region likely to receive heavy to extremely heavy rain, according to the IMD bulletin.

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

Fishing activities have been stopped and ports in the state are shut as the sea has turned turbulent in the rough weather accompanied by extremely heavy rainfall and strong winds in the region triggered by the approaching cyclone.

The Western Railway said 76 trains have been cancelled as a precautionary measure to ensure safety of passengers and train operations.

Two most famous temples of Gujarat — Dwarkadhish Temple in Devbhumi Dwarka and Somnath Temple in Gir Somnath district — will remain closed on Thursday for devotees, according to a press statement.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh spoke to all three service chiefs and reviewed the preparedness of the armed forces for the landfall of cyclone Biparjoy. “The armed forces are ready to provide every possible assistance to civil authorities in tackling any situation or contingency due to the cyclone,” the minister tweeted.

Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya also reviewed the state of preparedness in Kutch. He visited Bhuj Air Force station to see the work done by the Garuda Emergency Response Team of the Indian Air Force.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has directed insurance firms to  expeditiously settle claims originating from loss of life, fisheries, livestock, crops, boats and property.

Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel was briefed about the evacuation measures across 164 coastal villages, his office said in a statement. He has spoken to village sarpanchs and promised all support.