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Friday, 25 May, 2001, 13:09 GMT 14:09 UK
Ports closed as cyclone nears
Waves on beach
Stormy seas have affected the Bombay coastline
Major ports on the west coast of India have been closed as a precaution against a cyclone which could hit the area at some point on Saturday.

The Indian Meteorological Department said the storm was some 500 km south of the coast of Gujarat, and would crawl in a north-north-westerly direction.

A Gujarat fisherman secures his boat
A Gujarat fisherman secures his boat
The cyclone is reported to have weakened in the last day or so - although there were still concerns it could hit areas devastated by the earthquake in January.

The Kutch region, one of the worst-affected quake zones, is believed to be at greatest risk if the cyclone reaches land.

Alert

The authorities said the army had been placed on alert - and the authorities were reported to have ordered thousands of people to be moved away form the coastline.

Kandla, one of India's biggest ports, was closed down with ships moved from jetties to avoid damage.

Officials said two other ports, Mundra and Piapavav, had also suspended operations.

Wind speeds of up to 200 km per hour are expected when the cyclone hits land.

However, a projection by a US Navy weather website appeared to show the cyclone steering clear of Gujarat.

Pakistan warning

A cyclone alert has also been declared in neighbouring Pakistan, and fishermen have been warned not to put out to sea.

South Asia is prone to natural disasters such as cyclones.

A cyclone in eastern Orissa state in October 1999 killed more than 10,000 people. Nearly 1.6 million homes were damaged or destroyed and nearly a million cattle perished.

Another cyclone hit Gujarat in 1998, levelling shanty towns and claiming more than 1,000 lives.

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See also:

24 May 01 | South Asia
Gujarat braces for cyclone
27 Jan 01 | South Asia
India struggles to cope
01 Feb 01 | South Asia
In pictures: Aid operation in Gujarat
10 Aug 00 | South Asia
Analysis: India's wet spots
07 Aug 00 | Sci/Tech
The dangers of climate change
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