At least 33 people were killed in the severe cyclonic storm Gaja that battered Tamil Nadu coast Friday. As many as 82,000 people were evacuated before the cyclone made landfall between Nagapattinam and Vedaranyam in the state. The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has predicted squally weather conditions in the area for the next 24 hours. The cyclonic storm has moved westwards towards interior Tamil Nadu bringing heavy rains to the Tamil-Kerala border region.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted his condolences for the families of people who lost their lives due to Cyclone Gaja. Modi said that he spoke with Tamil Nadu Chief Minister E Palanswamy to take stock of the situation and assured that officials were working towards providing all possible assistance.
The storm has uprooted 1,27,448 trees and has damaged several electric poles and crops in the state. Districts like Pudukottai, Thanjavur and Cuddalore bore most of the brunt of the cyclone. Many fishermen boats drifted towards Sri Lankan waters and the state government was making efforts to bring them back. It has been reported that as many as 173 boats reached the Lankan coast and at least 120 were left damaged due to the storm.
“There has been a large scale damage to houses, power infrastructure, crops, boats and trees in Nagapattinam. We have ve mobilised a lot of mobile and static camps and chlorination is being done. More than 200 doctors and paramedical staff is present,” ANI quoted Tamil Nadu Health Secretary as saying.
State Disaster Management Authority puts the death toll during Cyclone Gaja at 35 ; 1,27,448 trees have fallen during the Gaja Cyclone.
— AIADMK (@AIADMKOfficial) November 17, 2018
The Indian Navy personnel have joined the State Authorities, NDRF and civil populace to clear public buildings and roads in Nagapattinam. Two naval ships Chetlat and Cheriyam carrying relief materials have also arrived at Karaikal. On the other hand, the Rameswaram-Dhanushkodi road in the state which was closed for three days due to Gaja, reopened early Saturday morning.
Tamil Nadu CM Palaniswami assured assistance to the people at the earliest asking them not panic. He announced a financial aid of Rs 10 lakh to the families of the deceased. After a complete assessment of the damages, the state government will approach the Centre for assistance. Meanwhile, DMK leader M K Stalin has appreciated the efforts of the state disaster management team and relief measures taken by the state government.
Cyclone Gaja is the second cyclone to hit the coastal area in a month after Cyclone Titli wreaked havoc in Odisha and Andhra Pradesh on October 11, killing a total of 70 people.