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Monday, February 17, 2020

Cyclone Maha: Diu beaches shut, tourist spots deserted

The local administration has banned entry of tourists on beaches and has issued an advisory to all hotels to not allow any more tourists till the cyclone threat persists.

Written by Vaibhav Jha | Diu | Published: November 7, 2019 9:40:52 am
Diu beaches shut, tourist spots deserted Nagoa beach, one of Diu’s most popular tourist spots, was shut down on Wednesday. (Express Photo by Javed Raja)

As the India Meteorological Department (IMD) predicted the weakening of Cyclone Maha that was to hit the Gujarat coast at Diu by Thursday afternoon, the preparedness for rescue and evacuation process slowed down by Wednesday evening. However, beaches were closed for all activity at a dry Gujarat’s closest watering hole and hotels were asked not to take in any more tourists.

“We have five teams of NDRF as well as teams of local administration and police in Diu to deal with the cyclone threat. As the IMD has predicted that the cyclone has weakened, we are now focusing on dilapidated or kutcha structures near the sea as wind speed of 80-90km/hr can cause damage. A total of eight shelter homes have been set up across Diu… Fishermen have been advised not to go to the sea…,” said Sonali Rai, collector, Diu.

It was business as usual on Wednesday in Diu as shops remained open and residents went about their day. However, popular tourist spots remained deserted. The local administration has banned entry of tourists on beaches and has issued an advisory to all hotels to not allow any more tourists till the cyclone threat persists. Hotels and bars have also been asked not to serve liquor to tourists. Any kind of water sports has also been banned at resorts in Diu.

NDRF personnel at Vanakbara dock of the town. (Express Photo by Javed Raja)

“We have been asked not to allow any more tourists in our hotel and hardly three-four are remaining. They will vacate by today evening. We are shut as of now,” said Ravi Solanki, manager, Rasal Beach Resorts, Diu.

Fishermen at Vanakbara dock, the biggest dock in Diu, were allowed to safeguard their boats on Wednesday night. The fishermen’s association submitted an undertaking to the administration stating that they would vacate the dock and return to their homes from 9 am till afternoon on Thursday. As many as 3,000 fishermen are employed at the Vanakbara dock that houses more than 200 boats.

“We have more than 200 boats stationed at the Vanakbara dock and each boat costs Rs 60 lakh. We cannot just leave behind our boats as we need a minimum team of 4-5 persons on each boat to ensure that there is no damage to the boats amid heavy winds,” said Lakshman Solanki, president, Vanakabara Fishermen’s Association.

Personnel from the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) rescued over 300-400 persons living in dilapidated or kutcha huts near sea side at various low lying areas of Diu. Severe cyclonic storm Maha is likely to become a deep depression by Thursday noon. As many as 500 personnel from the local administration, Police and NDRF are deployed in Diu.

“We have rescued and evacuated people from low lying areas and brought them to shelter homes. All five units of NDRF will be deployed tomorrow to deal with any crisis,” said Kuldeep Singh, inspector, NDRF.

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