New Delhi: Over 1.5 lakh people were evacuated from low-lying areas along India's western coast as a powerful Cyclone Tauktae is expected to make landfall in Gujarat by Monday (May 17, 2021) evening.
According to the India Meteorological Department’s (IMD) latest notification on Tauktae, it has now become a “very severe cyclonic storm" and is likely to intensify even further in the next 24 hours before making the landfall in Gujarat.
As cyclone Tauktae barrels towards Gujarat, at least six people have lost their lives, hundreds of houses were damaged, trees and electricity poles were uprooted and as many as 1.5 lakh people are evacuated from the coastal areas.
Other states like Kerala and Goa have been witnessing heavy rainfall, gale-force winds and high tidal waves as cyclone Tauktae nears.
Strong winds with speed reaching up to 90 km/per were lashing the western coastal region, and as per the Cyclone Warning Division of the IMD, by May 18 the wind speed is expected to increase to 150-160 km per hour, gusting up to 175 km per hour.
Over 54 teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) have been deployed in Gujarat to manage the situation.
On the other hand Maharashtra is also bracing for the impact of cyclone Tauktae. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has completely closed the COVID-19 vaccination drive in Mumbai in view of the warning about cyclone Tauktae.
The vaccination programme will now be implemented on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, municipal commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal said in the announcement.
IMD has also predicted that isolated places in north Konkan, Mumbai, Thane and Palghar will receive heavy to very heavy on Monday, while Raigad can receive extremely heavy rainfall.
Gusty winds and heavy rains started lashing several parts of Goa since Saturday night disrupting power supply in a large part of the state.
Chief Minister Pramod Sawant said the major impact of the cyclonic winds was felt in Bardez taluka in North Goa district and Mormugao in South Goa. He said there was power disruption for some time at the Goa Medical College and Hospital (GMCH), where COVID-19 patients are undergoing treatment, but it did not affect the functioning.
“Hundreds of houses suffered major damage due to the cyclonic winds. Some highways were blocked at several points after trees got uprooted. However, the roads were cleared by the disaster management teams," Sawant said.
The power supply was disrupted as electric poles were uprooted due to the high-speed winds, state Power Minister Nilesh Cabral told PTI. “Many high tension 33 KV feeders are down due to the falling of trees. Even the 220 KV lines bringing power to Goa from neighbouring Maharashtra have been damaged," he said.
The electricity department deployed its full force for the restoration work, but it was getting hampered due to the strong winds, he said.
At least four people died in Udupi, Uttara Kannada, Shivamogga, and Chikkamgaluru, the Karnataka government announced.
In Karnataka, over 70 villages in seven districts including Dakshina Kannada, Kodagu and Hassan have been affected by the cyclone, the Karnataka State Disaster Management Authority officials said.
The highest rainfall of 385 mm was recorded at Nada Station in Kundapura taluk of Udupi district, which was the worst affected, and 15 stations recorded more than 200 mm of rainfall in the district. Officials said nearly a dozen relief camps are functioning in the state.
There has been damage to 112 houses, 139 electricity poles and other infrastructure in coastal areas.
Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa has asked in-charge Ministers of coastal districts and Deputy Commissioners there to visit the affected areas and carry out rescue and relief works.
The water level in many dams across Kerala showed a rising trend after heavy rains in the catchment areas, prompting authorities to sound an alert.
The IMD has issued orange alerts -a warning indicating heavy to very heavy rain- on Sunday in three Kerala districts-Ernakulam, Idukki and Malappuram.
Many houses were damaged in coastal areas across the state as seawater seeped in following high waves. According to the state government, at least nine districts have been severely affected by sea incursion.
The Thrissur district administration said spillway shutters of the Peringalkuthu dam will be opened if the water level crosses the permitted limit of 419.41 metres. In a statement, the administration has urged the people living on the banks of Chalakudy river to be cautious.
Shutters of Malankara dam in Idukki district will be opened on Sunday, as the water level has increased, the district authorities said. Families living in coastal areas and low-lying areas of the state have been shifted to relief camps.
Indian Navy deployed its diving and quick reaction teams in the coastal village of Chellanam in Ernakulam district, which was heavily hit by tidal waves. The teams, braving harsh weather conditions, undertook rescue and rehabilitation of people who were trapped in houses.
High tidal waves have also lashed Kaipamangalam, Chavakkad and Kodungallur in Thrissur, Pallithura in Thiruvananthapuram, Thrikkannapuzha in Alappuzha and Beypore and Koyilandy in Kozhikode districts.
The IMD said Tauktae would cross Gujarat’s coast between Porbandar and Mahuva in Bhavnagar district by early Tuesday morning and tidal waves are likely to inundate several coastal districts during the landfall.
“The very severe cyclonic storm Tauktae over the east-central Arabian Sea moved nearly northwards with a speed of about 11 kmph during the past six hours," it said.
“It is very likely to intensify during the next 24 hours. It is very likely to move north-northwestwards and reach the Gujarat coast in the evening hours of May 17 and cross the state coast between Porbandar and Mahuva in Bhavnagar district around May 18 early morning," the IMD said.
With the cyclone intensifying, the wind speed along and off Gujarat coasts in Porbandar, Junagadh, Gir Somnath and Amreli districts will reach 150-160 kmph gusting to 175 kmph by Tuesday morning.
It will reach a speed of 120-150 kmph gusting to 165 kmph over Devbhoomi Dwarka, Jamnagar, Bhavnagar districts during the same period, the IMD said.
“Gale winds with speed reaching 70-80 kmph gusting to 90 kmph are likely to prevail along and off Valsad, Navsari, Surat, Bharuch, southern parts of Ahmedabad, and Anand districts, as well as Dadra, Nagar Haveli, Daman (Union Territories) from May 17 midnight till Tuesday morning," it said.
“With the cyclone likely to affect power supply, hospitals treating COVID-19 patients have been asked to ensure power back-up. Arrangements have also been made to ensure uninterrupted generation of medical oxygen in the eight manufacturing units and buffer stock has also been created," Chief Minister Vijay Rupani told reporters after attending a cyclone review meeting in Gandhinagar.
PM Narendra Modi and Amit Shah review situation:
Home Minister Amit Shah reviewed the preparedness for Cyclone Tauktae in Gujarat, Maharashtra and the Union territories of Daman and Diu and Dadra and Nagar Havel and “specifically" stressed that all health facilities, including those for COVID-19 treatment, falling in the affected areas should be secured along with the patients.
Shah also advised them to ensure adequate stocks of all essential medicines and supplies in the hospitals, keeping in view a likely disruption in the movement of vehicles, a statement issued by the Union home ministry said.
Earlier, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had on Saturday reviewed the preparedness of states, central ministries and agencies concerned to deal with the situation arising out of Cyclone Tauktae.
(With PTI Inputs)