Cyclone Ockhi heading towards Gujarat, authorities bracing for ‘worst situation’
Cyclone Ockhi, heading towards Gujarat, brought rain and an overcast sky to the state.Updated: Dec 05, 2017 22:50 IST
Authorities activated precautionary measures and politicians were forced to cancel their rallies and campaign in poll-bound Gujarat as cyclone Ockhi is likely to make landfall on Tuesday night on the state’s southern coast in Surat.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi appealed to BJP workers to help those in the direct path of the cyclone, which left a trail of destruction in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Lakshadweep islands.
As many as 39 people were killed and 167 fishermen were missing after the cyclone hit Tamil Nadu and Kerala coasts, the Union home ministry said. More than 500 fishermen were rescued from the sea.
The cyclone heading towards Gujarat brought rain and an overcast sky, taking the wind out of campaigning in the state, which goes to the polls on December 9 and 14.
Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi addressed a rally in Anjar, but cancelled three more scheduled for the day. BJP chief Amit Shah’s three rallies in coastal Amreli and Bhavnagar districts were cancelled on Tuesday, a party release said.
The BJP called off a road show of party parliamentarian Manoj Tiwari in Ahmedabad, and rallies of Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje and her Uttar Pradesh counterpart Yogi Adityanath in Surat.
Former Congress strongman Shankersinh Vaghela was also forced to cancel his road shows and rallies in Junagadh and Saurashtra.
According to the weather department, Ockhi has degenerated into a deep depression on Tuesday afternoon, may weaken further and dissipate before landfall.
Sanjeev Kumar Jindal, joint secretary in the Union home ministry, corroborated the forecast that the cyclone is slowing down.
However, authorities in Gujarat are bracing “for the worst situation”. Schools are closed till Wednesday and the Coast Guard called back around 13,000 fishing boats that ventured into the seas on Monday evening.
Pankaj Kumar, principal secretary in the state’s revenue department, told reporters that National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams have been deployed along the coastal belt and contingency plans drawn out. “The state is fully prepared for the worst situation, if it arises,” he said.
The cyclonic storm brought rain and hailstorm to Mumbai on Tuesday, but there was no report of any damage to life or property. The city recorded 36mm of rain, the highest in a 24-hour cycle for the month of December in 50 years.
The rain in the country’s financial capital and its suburbs subsided by afternoon, though a hailstorm lashed some sections of the Munbai-Pune Expressway.
The cyclone, which skimmed Goa’s coastline, damaged 12 beaches this tourist season, state revenue minister Rohan Khaunte said.
In worst-affected Kerala, the state government intensified search and rescue for 92 fishermen missing in high seas after Ockhi hit the coast on November 29. The navy, air force and Coast Guard are helping the operation.
The state also cancelled the inaugural ceremony of the International Film Festival of Kerala, which was scheduled to begin in Thiruvananthapuram on December 8.
The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has asked fishermen in both eastern and western coasts not to venture into the sea for the next three days as heavy rainfall is expected in many areas because of cyclone Ockhi.
First Published: Dec 05, 2017 22:49 IST