Cyclone Ockhi, which was expected to make landfall near Gujarat's Surat, has weakened: authorities
Surat: Cyclone Ockhi, which was expected to make landfall near Gujarat's Surat late on Tuesday, has weakened and may not hit the coast as predicted earlier, the Meteorological Centre has said. The cyclonic storm which gradually turned into a "depression" may have dissipated into the Arabian sea, say authorities. Although the worse is over but Gujarat continues to be on alert with rescue and relief teams stationed at its coast as precautionary measure, they said. Several top leaders including Prime Minister Narendra Modi were forced to cancel their election rallies in the state, which saw rain in several parts through the day. Ockhi passed by Mumbai earlier on Wednesday bringing mostly light showers, but caused no damage to life or property, officials said. It earlier caused havoc in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Lakshadweep islands.
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Cyclone Ockhi, which battered parts of Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Lakshadweep islands, did not hit off Surat coast as expected, possibly dissipated over Arabian sea due to unfavourable environmental conditions, like high wind shear and colder sea surface temperatures near the coast, the weather office said.
Rescue teams, however, are still on alert to deal with any emergency situation. Around 1,600 people have been shifted to safer places in Surat, officials said. Teams of the National Disaster Response Force or NDRF have been stationed along the Gujarat coast near Surat and Saurashtra.
The weather office said the depression may bring light to moderate rain in parts of Gujarat for the next three days as the sea condition would remain rough for the next 18 hours. It has cautioned fishermen from venturing into the sea.
The Gujarat government issued an advisory on Wednesday warning of a "rapid" rise in the water level of rivers in parts of Maharashtra and Gujarat. The water resources ministry asked authorities in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Odisha to ensure "sufficient vigil" in coastal areas for the next three days as the path of a depression developing in the Bay of Bengal "is not yet well- established".
"Conducted review meeting with officials in view of Ockhi cyclone at Surat. Instructed them to leave no stone unturned to counter any adverse situation...No need to panic," Chief Minister Vijay Rupani tweeted.
In a series of tweets on Tuesday, PM Modi appealed to BJP workers in Gujarat to help people across the state. "With Cyclone Ockhi expected to make a landfall in Gujarat, I appeal to @BJP4Gujarat Karyakartas to focus on helping people across the state. Our Karyakartas should devote themselves to providing all possible assistance and stand shoulder to shoulder with fellow citizens," his tweet read.
The Kerala government has intensified the search operations to trace the fishermen who have been missing since November 29. "As of now, 10 people died in Tamil Nadu and 29 others in Kerala. The whereabouts of 74 fishermen in Tamil Nadu and 93 fishermen in Kerala is not known yet," senior home ministry official Sanjeev Kumar told reporters.
"Operation Synergy" -- a joint rescue mission by the Navy, the Air Force, Coast Guard and state fisheries department has so far brought 252 fishermen to safety.
Union Health Minister JP Nadda, in a statement issued on Tuesday said, "The centre will provide full cooperation and assistance to the cyclone-affected states in terms of preventive and relief measures for managing the situation."