India

Cyclone Nilofar approaches India's Gujarat state

The sea in Porbandar in Gujarat Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Cyclone Nilofar, categorised as "severe" by weather forecasters, is expected to hit the western state of Gujarat

Authorities in India have alerted fishermen going out into the sea as a powerful cyclone is heading for the western coast.

Cyclone Nilofar, categorised as "severe" by weather forecasters, is expected to hit the western state of Gujarat during the "next 24 hours".

The Meteorological Department has predicted the storm will bring winds of up to 145km/h (90 mph).

A super-cyclone in 1999 killed more than 10,000 people in Orissa.

Earlier this month, Cyclone Hudhud pounded India's eastern coast, killing more than 40 people, causing extensive damage and prompting the evacuation of some 350,000 people.

The Meteorological Department said on Monday that Cyclone Nilofar would "intensify into a severe cyclonic storm during the next 24 hours".

Heavy rainfall is expected in the coastal districts of Saurashtra and Kutch and the sea along the coast in Gujarat will be "rough to very rough," the weather department said in a statement.

Fishermen out at sea in the area have been asked to return to the coast, and authorities have put the coastal villages on alert.

"Roughly around 5,000 fishing boats are at sea. We are trying to contact them and ask them to reach the nearest port," senior state fisheries department official Pravinchandra Malli told The Indian Express newspaper.

It is still not clear whether the government is planning evacuations or sending disaster relief teams to the region.

Cyclonic storms are more common in India's eastern coast and Bangladesh - they routinely hit between April and November, causing deaths and widespread damage to property.

Last October, as many as 500,000 people in India were evacuated when Cyclone Phailin swept through Orissa and Andhra Pradesh states.

In December 2011, Cyclone Thane hit the southern state of Tamil Nadu, killing dozens of people.

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