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Monday, June 21, 2021

Cyclone Tauktae intensifies, Gujarat on alert

Till Sunday evening, authorities in Gujarat were in the process of evacuating an estimated 1.5 lakh people, while Maharashtra evacuated 5,000 people.

By: Express News Service | Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Panaji, Thiruvananthapuram |
Updated: May 17, 2021 4:45:23 am
Fifty-four teams of the National Disaster Response Force and State Disaster Response Force have been deployed in Gujarat for relief operations. (Express)

At least seven people were killed as Tauktae intensified into a “very severe cyclonic storm” and moved northwards towards Gujarat, leaving behind a trail of destruction – damaging houses, uprooting trees and snapping power lines – in the coastal districts of Kerala, Karnataka and Goa on Sunday.

Authorities in Maharashtra and Gujarat, where the cyclone is expected to make landfall late Monday or early Tuesday, sounded an alert and evacuated thousands from low-lying areas to safer places. Fifty-four teams of the National Disaster Response Force and State Disaster Response Force have been deployed in Gujarat for relief operations.

Till Sunday evening, authorities in Gujarat were in the process of evacuating an estimated 1.5 lakh people, while Maharashtra evacuated 5,000 people.

According to the India Meteorological Department (IMD), Tauktae is likely to intensify further in the next 24 hours and reach the Gujarat coast. Strong winds with speed reaching up to 90 kmph lashed the western coastal region Sunday. By Tuesday, the wind speed is expected to increase to 150-160 kmph, gusting up to 175 kmph.

Briefing reporters in Bhavnagar, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani said, “Through a video conference, Union Home Minister [Amit Shah] has given guidance to the state government about the likely scenario and accordingly, Gujarat has prepared an action plan. Our target is to ensure zero casualty.”

Porbandar, Amreli, Junagadh, Gir Somnath, Botad and Bhavnagar are likely to bear the brunt with the weather department predicting severe destruction. “High tidal waves above astronomical tide are likely to inundate coastal areas… during the time of landfall between May 17 and 18,” an IMD bulletin said.

In Mumbai, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said coastal districts have been put on high alert, and the administration has taken adequate precautions to ensure uninterrupted power and oxygen supply to Covid hospitals.

Earlier, the cyclonic storm along with heavy rainfall ravaged coastal areas in Kerala, Goa and Karnataka as it moved northwards. While four deaths were reported in Karnataka, two were reported in Goa and one in Kerala.

The four deaths in Karnataka were reported in Uttara Kannada, Udupi, Chikkamagaluru and Shivamogga districts. Officials said 98 villages in seven districts were affected. Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa asked in-charge ministers of coastal districts and Deputy Commissioners to visit the affected areas for relief work.

In Panaji, Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant said: “It [Tauktae] touched Goa and moved ahead but it has caused a lot of damage.” A woman died in Bardez, North Goa after a tree fell on her and a man died after an electric pole fell on a two-wheeler. Late Sunday evening, IMD Goa said Tauktae “with a distorted circular eye of around 47 km diameter” was at a distance of 400 km south-souteast of Diu. It predicted heavy rain in Goa for next two days.

Power outages were experienced through Goa. Sawant said the electricity department was working to restore power. “It will take two days to streamline everything,” he said. “By the grace of God, power supply at our Covid-19 hospitals was not disrupted.”

In Kerala, most parts reported heavy rainfall for the second consecutive day, damaging crops and houses. The Met Department sounded yellow alert for 11 out of 14 districts on Monday and a flood warning was sounded along the banks of Meenachil river, which flows through Kottayam. In Idukki district, a 62-year-old woman was killed after a tree collapsed on the car in which she was travelling. Three others were injured.

With PTI, Bengaluru

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