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Cyclone Tauktae Highlights: 26 dead, over 50 missing after barge sinks into Arabian Sea; toll touches 46 in Gujarat

Cyclone Tauktae Highlights: Prime Minister Narendra Modi took stock of the situation in Gujarat. He conducted an aerial survey of Una, Dio, Jafarabad and Mahuva.

By: Express Web Desk | Ahmedabad, Mumbai, New Delhi |
Updated: May 21, 2021 9:38:35 am
Rescued crew members of barge P305 at the Mumbai Naval Dockyard.

At least 26 personnel onboard barge P305 that went adrift in Cyclone Tauktae fury before sinking in the Arabian Sea are dead, Navy officials said. Over 50 people on board the barge and another tugboat Varaprada are still missing. The barge sank on Monday at 7 pm.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi took stock of the situation in Gujarat, two days after the cyclone made landfall in the Saurashtra region. He landed in Bhavnagar, from where he conducted an aerial survey of Una, Dio, Jafarabad and Mahuva. Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani accompanied him.

Officials on Wednesday said that as many as 46 people have been killed due to the cyclone across 12 districts of Gujarat. Fifteen deaths were reported from Amreli district in the Saurashtra region, the worst affected in the cyclone that crossed the state coast as an extremely severe cyclonic storm on Monday night and completed landfall around 1.30 am Tuesday, PTI reported citing officials.

Live Blog

Cyclone Tauktae, weather forecast live updates: PM Narendra Modi announces ex-gratia; search and rescue operations continue for ONGC staff; at least 46 dead in Gujarat; rains, gusty winds in Delhi, Rajasthan, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh. Read the latest news and updates below

22:33 (IST)19 May 2021
Cyclone Tauktae damages port infrastructure in Gujarat

Port infrastructure belonging to APM Terminals, Reliance Naval and Engineering Ltd and Swan Energy Ltd in Gujarat, which were in the path of cyclone Tauktae, have suffered some damages due to the strong winds, official sources said Wednesday.

As per preliminary reports, there seems to be substantial damage at Gujarat Pipavav Port Ltd (GPPL) operated by APM Terminals, a senior official from the state government said. “It is the only port which has not begun functioning after the cyclone. The company has not been able to give an assessment of the damages to the government so far,” the official said. Read more here.

22:32 (IST)19 May 2021
Over 70% trees uprooted in Mumbai due to heavy winds are non-native species

In over 24 hours between Sunday and Monday, 812 trees were uprooted as extremely severe cyclone Tauktae brushed past the city. An inspection of the uprooted trees has revealed that 70 per cent of those were non-native species, including Gulmohar, rain tree and royal palm among others.

Last year, 323 trees fell between June 3 and June 6, in the aftermath of cyclone Nisarga that hit Raigad district.

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Wednesday stressed its existing policy of planting native species trees and said an updated list of native tree species will be issued for citizens and private organisations to follow during plantation drives. More details here

21:11 (IST)19 May 2021
Watch: Visuals of the rescue operation

Indian Naval ships and aircraft are presently undertaking search and rescue operations of the missing crew members of accommodation barge P-305, which sank on May 17.

20:44 (IST)19 May 2021
Rescued workmen from barge recall horror in sea

Battling tidal waves as high as 15 metres and strong winds while trying to stay afloat in the cyclone-hit rough Arabian Sea for almost 12 hours, workmen rescued from a sinking barge narrated their horrifying experience in their quest for survival.

One of the survivors said the incident was similar to the scenes from the movie 'Titanic' that depicted the sinking of the RMS Titanic ship in 1912 in the North Atlantic Ocean, while some others said that they had almost lost the hope of making it alive back home.

"People might have watched in 'Titanic' movie the occupants jumping out of the sinking ship to save themselves and dead bodies floating, but we saw all this unfold before our eyes," Vishwajeet Bandgar (28), who worked on the barge as a welder, said after his rescue by the Navy.

"It was worse than the Titanic, as dead bodies of our colleagues, who worked with us, could be seen floating in the water," he said. (PTI)

20:39 (IST)19 May 2021
Update on rescue effort: 26 dead, over 50 missing

*According to the Indian Navy, as of now, 186 crew members of barge P-305 and two from another tug ‘Varaprada’ have been rescued. A total of 26 mortal remains of the crew of barge P305 have been recovered so far.

*Search and rescue operations entered their third day today. INS Kochi, Kolkata, Beas, Betwa, Teg, P8I maritime surveillance aircraft, Chetak, ALH and Seaking helicopters are involved in the SAR operations.

*INS Kochi entered harbour today to disembark 125 survivors and mortal remains of four crew members and was immediately sailed out in the evening again to continue the search mission.

*INS Kolkata is scheduled to enter Mumbai harbour tonight to disembark the survivors rescued from barge P-305 and Varaprada, as well as the mortal remains of 18 crew members recovered during the operation.

*On completion of its operations off Gujarat coast, INS Talwar has also been diverted to conjoin the other three naval ships searching for the missing crew of barge P-305. 

18:11 (IST)19 May 2021
PM Modi announces Rs 1,000 crore for immediate relief in cyclone- hit Gujarat

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday announced financial assistance of Rs 1,000 crore for immediate relief measures in the areas hit by cyclone Tauktae in Gujarat. 

The prime minister also announced Rs 2 lakh ex-gratia compensation for the kin of the deceased and Rs 50,000 for those injured in cyclone-related incidents in all states affected by Tauktae, news agency PTI reported citing an official press release.

The decision was taken during the review meeting in Ahmedabad with Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and top officials to assess the damage caused by the cyclone.

17:48 (IST)19 May 2021
Second cyclone this week headed towards India’s east coast

In less than a week, another cyclone is headed towards India, this time along its east coast.

It was on May 17 that ‘Extremely Severe Cyclone’ Tauktae hit southern Gujarat and its remnants continue to head towards the plains of north India. 

Officials at the India Meteorological Department (IMD) on Wednesday afternoon said that a low-pressure system could take birth within the next 48 hours and it holds a potential to intensify into a cyclone. More details here

Cyclone Yash

17:00 (IST)19 May 2021
In Pics: People rescued from barge P305 

People rescued from barge P305 that went adrift in Cyclone Tauktae fury before sinking in the Arabian Sea.

Image credits: Reuters & PTI
15:53 (IST)19 May 2021
Cyclone Tauktae death toll climbs to 45 in Gujarat

Officials on Wednesday said that as many as 45 people have been killed due to the cyclone across 12 districts of Gujarat. Fifteen deaths were reported from Amreli district in Saurashtra region, the worst affected in the cyclone that crossed the state coast as an extremely severe cyclonic storm on Monday night and completed landfall around 1.30 am Tuesday, PTI reported. 

15:50 (IST)19 May 2021
Cyclone Tauktae: 22 dead, 65 missing from barge P305

At least 22 personnel onboard barge P305 that went adrift in Cyclone Tauktae fury before sinking in the Arabian Sea are dead, news agency PTI reported citing Navy officials. Over 60 people are still missing while at least 180 people have been rescued. The barge sank on Monday at 7 pm.

14:20 (IST)19 May 2021
PM Modi conducts aerial survey of Gujarat after Cyclone Tauktae

Prime Minister Narendra Modi conducts an aerial survey of Una, Dio, Jafarabad and Mahuva after Cyclone Tauktae. Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani accompanied him. (Pictures via ANI)

13:56 (IST)19 May 2021
Rains lash Mumbai, suburbs

13:22 (IST)19 May 2021
Coast Guard sent warnings to ONGC on May 11, 13 to remove ships

The Coast Guard, which regularly provides assistance to vessels in distress, had clearly warned the Oil and Natural Gas Commission (ONGC) and also the Flag Officer, Offshore Defence Advisory Group (FODAG), that all ships should come back to the harbour in the wake of Cyclone Tauktae. Inspector General Anand Badola, the Commandant General of Coast Guard (West), said they had asked ONGC and FODAG to remove all vessels from the sea. "Why the ONGC did not follow the intimation is a question it has to answer," he added.

Badola said they ensured that 4,221 fishing boats had entered the harbour before the cyclone made its way to the Mumbai coast. Read Yogesh Naik's report

12:49 (IST)19 May 2021
Vara Prabha survivors say tug sank; search operations underway

Commodore Manoj Jha, in charge of operations, said two survivors of tug Vara Prabha were picked by naval ships and taken onboard. "These survivors have told us that the tug has sunk and we are looking out for her," Jha said. 

12:35 (IST)19 May 2021
JUST IN | 14 bodies recovered, two days after Barge P305 sank in Arabian Sea

Indian Navy Commodore Manoj Jha Wednesday said 14 bodies had been recovered from the Arabian Sea, two days after a vessel which went adrift during Cyclone Tauktae sank. 

11:46 (IST)19 May 2021
Cyclone Tauktae: Remnant of the system to move to UP in next two days

The system has weakened into a depression over south Rajasthan and adjoining Gujarat, and lies about 30 km south-southwest of Udaipur and 170 km east-northeast of Deesa in Gujarat. It is likely to gradually weaken into a well-marked low pressure area in the next 12 hours. The remnant of the system is very likely to move further northeastwards across Rajasthan to Uttar Pradesh during the next two days, the IMD said. 

11:41 (IST)19 May 2021
ONGC employees, rescued from Barge P305, brought to land

The personnel rescued from Barge P305 were brought to Mumbai by INS Kochi and INS Kolkata this morning. The Navy, in a statement, said: "INS Teg, INS Betwa, INS Beas, P8I aircraft and Seaking helicopters are continuing with the search and rescue operations."

11:39 (IST)19 May 2021
89 ONGC staff from Barge P305 still missing; search and rescue ops underway

 The Indian Navy and Coast Guard are involved in one of the biggest off-short search and rescue operations after Cyclone Tauktae (pronounced Tau’te) battered an oil rig and left three vessels adrift in the Arabian Sea. On Wednesday, the Navy confirmed all 101 workers on Sagar Bhushan, the oil rig, had been rescued. The 137 men on Gal Constructor, which ran aground near Palghar, had also been rescued. The 196 men on SS03, which is still adrift, are safe and a tug boat has been sent to tow her to safety.

The focus has turned to Barge P305, which sank on Monday, from which 184 of the 273 people onboard have been rescued. The other men, 89 in number, are missing. Search and rescue operations will continue for the next three days.

10:37 (IST)19 May 2021
Cyclone Tauktae: ‘Barge almost hit oil rig, was staring at death’

Many of the 137 people who were on board the ill-fated Gal Constructor barge ship and were rescued said they had given up hope of escaping alive and “stared at death” as their barge nearly hit an oil rig. Some even called their families to say their final goodbyes.

Anand Menon, 45, deck foreman of Gal constructor, who has been on barges since 1994, said, “I have seen several cyclones while on ships but all of them passed in two to four hours. This was the first time that a cyclone was so powerful and lasted for several hours. We had lowered four anchors, each weighing over seven tonnes, but the cyclone was so strong that all of them got ripped within minutes and we started drifting away. We had eight anchors on the barge but there was not enough space to lower all anchors as there are pipes below the sea that could have got damaged.” Jayprakash S Naidu reports

10:23 (IST)19 May 2021
Never imagined Cyclone Tauktae would be so ferocious, say Gujarat villagers

As Tauktae made landfall between 8 pm and 11 am near Una in neighbouring Gir Somnath district, wind started gusting up to 185 km per hour and it rained heavily. Vijapadi residents said they tried to weather the storm but situation the spiralled out of control just past midnight.

Vijapadi is among the largest villages in Amreli with population of around 12,000. But most of houses are kuccha houses and not a single one of them was spared by the cyclone. Dozens of residents shifted to a high school in the village and a madarsa amid the storm and in the dark of the night as power supply was disrupted the previous afternoon. Read Gopal B Kateshiya's report

Compartments of Indian flagged Tug Coromondel Supporter IX’ flooded after it was adrift in north west of Mangalore. (PTI Photo)

Report: Rise in cyclone intensity, frequency due to micro-climatic changes

Pointing to a higher frequency of extreme weather events and indicating a rise in the same over the coming decades across the country and the western coast, an analysis by environmental think tank the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) has mentioned that the yearly average of Indian districts affected by cyclones tripled and the cyclone frequency doubled after 2005.

The CEEW said the country, in the last 50 years, has also recorded a 12-fold surge in the number of associated cyclonic events such as extreme rainfall, floods, sea-level rise, and thunderstorms and that the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events over the country as well as the Western coast is likely to increase over the coming decades.

Explained: In Cyclone Tauktae, a continuing new trend from the Arabian Sea

Tauktae is the fourth cyclone in consecutive years to have developed in the Arabian Sea, that too in the pre-monsoon period (April to June). All these cyclones since 2018 have been categorised either ‘Severe Cyclone’ or above. Once Tauktae makes its landfall, three of these will have hit either the Gujarat or Maharashtra coast. After Cyclone Mekanu in 2018, which struck Oman, Cyclone Vayu in 2019 struck Gujarat, followed by Cyclone Nisarga in 2020 that struck Maharashtra.

Tauktae has been intensifying very rapidly. From a depression formed in the southeast Arabian Sea on May 14 morning, it strengthened into a VSCS by the early hours of May 16. Compared to Tauktae’s 2 days, Cyclone Vayu had taken 36 hours to become a VSCS, while Cyclone Mekanu (4 days) and Cyclone Nisarga (5 days) had developed slower.

Also, the first cyclones to form in 2020 and 2021 were in the Arabian Sea during the pre-monsoon period, both in the VSCS category.

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