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May 25, 2001 - May 26, 2001

Cyclone weakens, likely to hit on Sunday evening Saturday, May 26, 2001

Saturday, May 26, 2001 (Gandhinagar):

The cyclone churning in the Arabian sea off the Gujarat coast for the last three days has weakened slightly. The MET Department says it is now expected to hit the coast by Sunday evening. According to the last available reports, the cyclone has moved 0.5 degrees westward and is now about 550 kilometres southwest of Verawal in the Arabian Sea.

It is also expected to move in a northwesterly direction possibly recurve and hit the Gujarat coast between Verawal and Nalia by Sunday evening. The MET department also says the wind speed in coastal areas like Jamnagar, Porbander, Junagarh and Amreli is about 80-100 kilometres per hour. People from villages on the coast have been evacuated and the administration says control rooms have been set up to monitor people's welfare.
Source - NDTV

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Evacuation of people on hold Friday, May 25, 2001

May 25, 13:45pm: Administration evacuated some 10,000 salt-marsh workers, placed the army on alert and cautioned people living in interior areas.

But plans to evacuate thousands more from the coastline were put on hold as the cyclone dawdled.

"It's good news that the cyclone storm is moving in a westerly direction," Gujarat Chief Relief Commissioner P. Panirvel told Reuters.

"We have put on hold the evacuation but we are not taking any chances and all the district authorities have been put on alert to deal with any eventuality."

Patrick Fuller of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in New Delhi said relief workers were on alert and ready to travel from Ahmedabad, the state's largest city, and Bhuj.

Bhuj was torn apart by this year's earthquake, in which some 30,000 people died, and the town is still teeming with relief teams working to rehabilitate the homeless.

Gujarat shut down one of its biggest ports, Kandla, on Friday just in case the storm swept in.

Kandla was hammered in 1998 by a cyclone that killed more than 1,000 people.

Port chairman A.K. Joti told Reuters that ships docked at Kandla had been moved away from jetties to minimize damage and all normal operations had been suspended.

News Source : Indiaabroad News Service [ Website for the NRI ]

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Gujarat industry on high alert Friday, May 25, 2001

Four months after the devastating quake, Gujarat is now in the path of another natural disaster, with a severe cyclonic storm expected to hit the south Gujarat coast between Surat and Veravel on Saturday morning.

Though a late night agency report quoted the India Meteorological Department chief, AB Mazumdar, as saying the cyclonic storm has slightly moved away from the Gujarat coast, the possibility of it again turning and coming back cannot be ruled out.

Meanwhile, industries in the Surat-Veravel belt of south Gujarat and Saurashtra coast are taking all precautionary steps to minimise damages.

Kandla, one of the country's busiest ports, will suspend operations from Friday morning. "We will suspend the entire port operations from Friday morning as a precautionary measure," Kandla Port Trust chairman AK Joti said. He said cargo was currently being moved to nearby warehouses and workers had been asked not to report for duty until the cyclone moved away from the coast.

Larsen & Toubro, which has a cement factory in Kovaya taluka of Amreli district on the Gujarat coast, has already set up a 24-hour control room for offsite and onsite emergency monitoring.

L&T vice-president Muraleedharan said, "Our fire and safety department is fully geared up to meet any eventuality. We have issued guidelines to people staying in residential areas on how to tie down objects and prevent them from flying off in case of high velocity winds." Since the colony is near the coast, detailed plans have also been drawn up to evacuate them if required. "Since we had faced a similar situation in June 1996, we are fully equipped to tackle this cyclone," he added.

Meanwhile, a Reliance spokesman said on Thursday that the cyclone path suggests that it would miss the company's Jamnagar refinery, and that operations would not be affected.

Indian Rayon Ltd, which has a rayon plant in Veraval with over 5,000 employees and the largest residential colony in the region, has also set up a 24-hour control room. Senior general manager SB Shrivastava said the control room plans to switch off all the power lines the moment the cyclone hits and switch on the diesel generation sets.

Gujarat Pipapav Port Ltd president (port) G C Bhatia said two ships carrying coal, expected to reach the port on Friday, have been diverted.

Ships already docked have been unloaded and will sail out by early Friday morning. Fire-fighting equipment, ambulances and other vehicles have been placed on standby and the president's office has been converted into a 24-hour control room.

Gujarat Adani Port Ltd president Malay Mahadevia said, "We are continuously monitoring the position of the cyclone through internet, TV channels and telephonic inquiries."

The de-berthing of all the vessels alongside the jetties and the multi-purpose terminal is being done so that no damage is caused to either the vessels or the jetties. Doors of dry cargo godowns, inlet and outlet valves of liquid terminals and tanks have been shut to ensure that there is no contamination of products, he said.

Mahesh Gupta, chairman of Indo Brine Industries Ltd, which has a salt refinery in Kandla, said all operations of the refinery have been suspended and employees and labourers given a holiday tomorrow. Power has also been switched off as a precautionary measure.

News Source : [ India's No 1 Website ]

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Over 100 fishermen missing in Gujarat Friday, May 25, 2001

By Vikram Vakil
Surat, May 24: More than 100 fishermen are believed to be missing at sea off the Gujarat coast, following warnings of a cyclone.

While government officials refused to confirm this, local villagers told that 11 boats from Valsad district and four from Daman are still to return home.

They were part of teams that had left on fishing expeditions a fortnight ago, when the cyclonic disturbances had not developed in the Arabian Sea.

With each boat carrying a complement of eight crew members, the total number of fishermen missing is reckoned at 120.

The villagers said that since the boats do not have any wireless communication equipment, it was not possible to get in touch with the fishermen. But they hoped the fishermen would have noticed the storm building up and moved over to the nearby Pakistan coast if they were unable to get back home.

Meanwhile, the collector of Surat told that three villages in the area were evacuated after sea water flooded them.

She said the wind speeds had also risen at places to as much as 240 kph and the district administration was on full alert.

News Source : [ India's No 1 Website ]

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Cyclone threat looms over Gujarat coast Friday, May 25, 2001

Thursday, May 24, 2001 (Gandhinagar):
In Gujarat, authorities have begun evacuating salt workers from the low-lying areas of the south-east coastline along Surat and Bhavnagar.

As the cyclone continues to head towards the Gujarat coast, people are being moved out in buses to areas at least 30 km into the hinterland. The Army has been called in and all ports have been put on alert. Control rooms with wireless sets have been set up at all talukas along the coast and every district has been provided with a satellite phone.

According to the met department, the cyclone has not travelled much northwards since late last night when it was 550 km south west of Veraval. It is now at 69.5 degrees east and 16.5 degrees north -- about 500 km south west of Veraval.

As the cyclone moves towards Gujarat, a worried state administration says it is preparing to deal with any crisis. "We have taken several steps as usual. We have deployed our officers on special duties. Prabhari mantris are in position, collectors have been alerted, civil supplies department has taken care to see that there is adequate stock of foodgrains. The police have been deployed," said Gujarat's chief secretary, Mr L N S Mukundan.

An emergency meeting called by the chief secretary is being held to chalk out the Government's plan of action. The cyclone is expected to hit the Gujarat coast between Veraval and Surat.
News Source - NDTV

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