Cyclone Gaja makes landfall in Tamil Nadu: Key developments

New Delhi: Cyclonic storm Gaja crossed the Tamil Nadu and Puducherry coast between Nagapattinam and nearby Vedaranniyam early Friday, November 16, with wind speeding up to 120 kmph.

Over 81,000 people have been evacuated across coastal state. They were evacuated from low-lying areas and sheltered at over 300 relief centres in six districts including Nagapattinam, Pudukottai, Ramanathapuram and Tiruvarur, reported news agency PTI.

Tamil Nadu government has announced helpline numbers 1070 (state-level) and 1077 (districts) for those who may need assistance.

Here are the major developments:

  • 76,290 people were evacuated from low lying areas and sheltered at over 300 relief centres in six districts including Nagapattinam, Pudukottai, Ramanathapuram and Tiruvarur.
  • A holiday has been declared for educational institutions in Nagapattinam. Electricity supply was disconnected in Nagapattinam and several other coastal regions. Four teams each of National Disaster Response Force personnel have been already deployed in Nagapattinam.
  • Two teams of the state disaster response force were deployed in Cuddalore district
  • “The centre of the cyclone is over land, but the rear sector of eyewall is over the sea. It will take about an hour to move over land,” an IMD bulletin issued at 3.15 am said.
  • IMD also said that the cyclonic storm is likely to move nearly westwards and weaken gradually into a cyclonic storm during the next few hours.
  • During the cyclone’s landfall, rains struck Nagapattinam, Tiruvarur, and Thanjavur, uprooting trees in several regions.
  • Senior bureaucrats have been stationed in these coastal districts, officials have said. Power supply was disconnected in Nagapattinam and in several other coastal regions in view of the cyclone’s landfall.
  • The district administration is also working with cellphone operators to ensure disruption-free mobile services as the cyclone makes landfall.
  • Two naval ships equipped with divers, helicopters and inflatable boats were also docked to move to affected areas to provide relief and humanitarian aid, according to reports.
  • Heavy rain and strong winds had started in the coastal regions of Tamil Nadu from early Thursday evening.
  • Kerala CMO had advised the fishing workers to not to venture into the southeast Arabian Sea along and off Kerala coast, Comorin area and Gulf of Mannar between November 16 and 20.
  • The Southern Railway cancelled four trains, including three from Chennai to destinations in Nagapattinam, Tiruvarur and Thanjavur districts. It also diverted four express trains bound for southern districts, a release said.
  • The Indian Navy is also on high alert. Two Navy ships – Ranvir and Khanjar – are standing by to proceed to the most affected areas to undertake humanitarian aid, distress relief, evacuation, and logistic support, including providing medical aid, the Navy said. Naval aircraft are also standing by to undertake reconnaissance, rescue, casualty, evacuation and airdrop of relief material to the stranded.