Cyclone batters a fishing hub

Thursday, June 13, 2019

VERAVAL, India (AP) — A cyclone in the Arabian Sea battered an Indian fishing hub with heavy wind, waves and rain Thursday and was forecast to bring dangerous weather conditions even as it veered away from the subcontinent’s western coast.

The India Meteorological Department said Cyclone Vayu, named after the Hindi word for wind and the season’s second major storm, was moving parallel to the coast of the western state of Gujarat, unlikely to hit it head on as previously forecast but instead turn toward the center of the sea. Pakistan warned of rough seas and dangerous heat, though the cyclone wasn’t expected to directly hit the port city of Karachi. In anticipation of the storm, rescue workers evacuated nearly 300,000 people, taking a cue from Cyclone Fani, which came ashore on India’s eastern coast in May, killing 34 people in India and 15 in neighboring Bangladesh.

An unprecedented evacuation effort that involved relocating about a million people ahead of Fani was credited with saving many lives. Though not as severe as Fani and unlikely to make landfall, Indian authorities cautioned that Vayu could leave dangerous conditions in its wake. Evacuation efforts continued Thursday.

“We have alerted people from 70 villages and are trying to tell others to evacuate as well. There is a chance that the storm will pick up pace and become stronger now,” Gujarat state minister Jawaharbhai Chavda said.

In Veraval, a hub of India’s fishing industry, heavy wind and rain from Vayu battered the beaches. Fishing boats were splintered by huge waves crashing onto shore. Local police were making a last-minute appeal to hut dwellers to leave their homes.

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