Gale-force winds, heavy rainfall and high tidal waves swept the coastal belt of Kerala, Karnataka and Goa as Cyclone Tauktae hurtled northwards towards Gujarat on Sunday, leaving six people dead, damaging hundreds of houses, uprooting electricity poles and trees and forcing evacuation in low-lying areas. One more person was killed in Surat in Gujarat after a tree fell on him. Several trees have been uprooted after strong winds and heavy rain were seen in coastal areas of the state.
According to the India Meteorological Department (IMD), Tauktae which has taken the form of a “very severe cyclonic storm” is likely to intensify further during the next 24 hours and reach the Gujarat coast by Monday evening.
Strong winds with speed reaching up to 90 km/per were lashing the western coastal region. According to 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. An estimated 1.5 lakh people are being shifted from low-lying coastal areas in Gujarat while 54 teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) have been deployed in the state.
Maharashtra too was bracing for the storm as the Met department predicted heavy to very heavy rains at isolated places in north Konkan, Mumbai, Thane and Palghar and extremely heavy rainfall in Raigad on Monday. The water level in many dams across Kerala was rising after heavy rains in the catchment areas, prompting authorities to sound an alert.
The IAF on Sunday 16 May 21, had deployed 2 C-130J and 1 An-32 aircraft for transportation of 167 personnel and 16.5 tonnes of load of NDRF from Kolkata to Ahmedabad. The An-32 is enroute to Ahmedabad as of now. Another C-130J and 2 An-32 aircraft carried 121 NDRF personnel and 11.6 tonnes of load from Vijayawada to Ahmedabad for the same purpose.
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.