Cyclone Ockhi to make landfall by midnight in Gujarat

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Gandhinagar : Gujarat is geared "for the worst situation" as cyclone Ochki, that left a trail of destruction in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, is expected to make landfall near Surat by Tuesday midnight, officials said.

The authorities have closed schools in the region till Wednesday. The Coast Guard has called back around 13,000 fishing boats that ventured into the seas on Monday evening.

However, some 700 boats from Dwarka and around 300 in other places were still out at sea. "We are hopeful of navigating them back with the help of the Coast Guard," Pankaj Kumar, Principal Secretary, Revenue Department, told reporters here.

"The state is fully prepared for the worst situation, if it arises. Right now the Ockhi cyclone is 390 km from Surat and is predicted to hit the city around midnight," he said.

The official said the wind velocity was expected to reach around 60 to 70 km, or even "up to even 80 km per hour in the coastal areas of Surat and Valsad".

Five teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and one of the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) have been stationed at Surat and other coastal areas.

The authorities have also halted works at some 510 construction sites. The administration is preparing to erect small towers for uninterrupted cellular services.

When Ockhi hits the state, it is expected that sea waves could reach heights of up to two meters.