Friday, May 25, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

900 fishermen missing, Army alerted
Cyclone may hit Gujarat coast tomorrow

Veraval (Junagadh), May 24
As many as 900 fishermen who ventured out in 120 boats have been reported missing in the Arabian Sea in Gujarat, official sources today said.

While 200 of them in 40 boats went missing near Veraval, 700 fishermen who set sail in 80 boats were reported missing from Valsad region of south Gujarat.

The Coast Guard had been alerted, the sources added.

In Surat, the district administration had issued a red alert and directed partial evacuation of people living in coastal areas. Those residing in weak structures had been asked to move to safer places.

Revising its earlier statement that the cyclone would hit the Gujarat coast tomorrow, the MeT Department here said it would be delayed by a day and hit the coast only on May 26.

Around 1,600 fishermen had left Nava Bandar in Junagadh district in 200 boats and only 160 boats had returned till this afternoon, the sources said.

Army personnel had begun to move towards areas in coastal districts of Gujarat, which were likely to be struck by a “very severe cyclonic storm”, presently positioned at 550 km south of Veraval.

The storm was slowly moving northwards and expected to cross south Gujarat coast between Veraval and Surat by the morning of May 26, official sources said.

Gujarat Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel had asked the Army to be ready to help launch rescue and relief measures in the eventuality of a severe cyclonic storm hitting the coastal areas of the state.

The fully mobilised district administration had, as a precaution, begun shifting people residing in the low-lying coastal areas and had warned fishermen against venturing out in the sea.

Round-the-clock control rooms equipped with satellite phone and ham radio sets have been set up in the coastal districts, the official sources said.

Chief Minister had entrusted the responsibility of monitoring the situation in vulnerable districts to in-charge ministers of Jamnagar, Bhavnagar, Junagadh, Porbander, Rajkot, Kutch, Valsad, Navsari, Surat, Bharuch and Anand, the sources added.

Veraval Deputy Collector Bhavin Pandya told UNI that around 12,000 people living in 25 low-lying villages in Veraval had been alerted for possible evacuation.

The evacuation was expected to start tonight or tomorrow morning, he added.

Cyclone warnings had also been broadcast on All-India Radio.

Heavy rains were likely to hit the region by this evening.

Mr Pandya said the cyclone was now around 450 km south of Veraval and moving northwards at around 30 kmph. The wind-speed of the cyclone was around 140 kmph.

Meanwhile, Surat Collector Sangeeta Singh said “A red alert has been issued and we are fully prepared to face any eventuality arising out of the impending cyclone.”

“We have arranged taluka-wise shelters in case the need arises, while NGOs, social organisations and various institutions have assured supply of food and first-aid materials,” she said, adding that all officials, doctors and para-medical staff of the Health Department had been summoned to report for duty with immediate effect.

The Surat Municipal Corporation had set up seven control rooms in the city. Trucks, tractors and other machinery needed for rescue operations were waiting to move out when needed.

Signal three, cautioning fishermen against venturing into the sea, had been hoisted between Dwarka and Umbergaon from yesterday, she added. UNI, PTI

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