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India's west coast hunkers down as Cyclone Vayu approaches -The Asian Age


Authorities evacuated nearly 300,000 people from India's western coastline ahead of a very severe cyclone that's expected to make landfall on Thursday as the year's second major storm.

The India Meteorological Department says Cyclone Vayu, named after the Hindi word for wind, could possibly just scrape by the western state of Gujarat instead of hitting it head on in the afternoon before returning to the Arabian Sea.

In Veraval, a hub of India's fishing industry where Vayu was expected to make landfall, heavy wind and rain battered the beaches. Fishing boats were splintered by huge waves crashing onto shore. Local police were making a last minute effort to convince hut dwellers to leave their homes.

Gale winds up to 180 kilometers (112 miles) per hour and rough sea conditions could last up to 12 hours in the cyclone's wake as it moves west toward Pakistan.

Pakistan's meteorological department issued an alert on Thursday, warning fishermen to stay inland this week as the cyclone could cause rough sea conditions.

The cyclone was not likely to directly impact the southern port city of Karachi, but the department said in a statement that the weather system could cause dust storms and rains in various parts of the southern Sindh province.

It said a heatwave was likely to hit Karachi on Thursday and Friday because the cyclone could stifle sea breeze, with temperatures rising to 42 degrees Celsius (108 degrees Fahrenheit).

The meteorological department also asked authorities to remain alert through Saturday, although the Cyclone Vayu was far away from the country's coastal areas.