The landfall process of the eye of extremely severe cyclonic storm Tauktae, which had hit Gujarat coast in Saurashtra between Diu and Una around 9 pm, ended around 12 am on Tuesday, the India Meteorological Department said. There is no report of any casualty so far, officials said. The state government had shifted over two lakh people to safer locations before the cyclone.
In a relief to the people, the IMD, in its tweet after midnight, also announced that Cyclone Tauktae has weakened into a “very severe cyclonic storm” from the “extremely severe cyclonic storm”. “The entire eye of the cyclone has now crossed the coast and lies over land. The rear sector of the eye is now entering the land,” the IMD tweeted.
The place above which the eye of a cyclone crosses is designated as the place of landfall. The process of landfall in Gujarat started on Monday around 9 pm with the entry of the ”forward sector of the eye of the cyclone Tauktae” into the land near the Union Territory of Daman and Diu with a wind speed of around 150 to 175 kilometers per hour, IMD officials in Gujarat said.
The cyclone brought gusty winds and heavy rains on the entire coastal belt, uprooting trees in Junagadh, Amreli and Bhavnagar districts, said district officials. The regional meteorological center said the cyclone would now move towards northern Gujarat and will eventually weaken.
“The cyclone would now move towards Amreli district and then towards Banaskantha in the north after crossing Surendranagar district, We expect that it will weaken as it moves forward,” said Assistant Director, Met Centre, Manorama Mohanty. While there are no reports of any human injury or death, gusty winds coupled with heavy rain uprooted several trees and electricity towers on the coastal belt, said Additional Chief Secretary, Revenue, Pankaj Kumar.
The cyclone winds also caused road blockage and power outages in many villages of these districts, said local MLAs. The state government has deployed rapid restoration teams to clear roads and restore electricity. Officials said the true picture of the devastation would emerge only in the morning, as extreme weather made it nearly impossible to go out during the night.
As a precautionary measure, the state government had already shifted two lakh people from the coastal towns for their safety. Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani had earlier said coastal districts of Amreli, Junagadh, Gir-Somnath and Bhavnagar will face the maximum brunt as the wind speed would go up to 150 kmph when the eye of the storm would make a landfall.
Gujarat faced such a potentially devastating cyclone after a gap of almost 23 years. In June 1998, a super cyclone had originated near the Lakshadweep Islands and hit the Kandla port of Gujarat. According to some estimates, up to 10,000 people were killed in that cyclone.
Major airports in Gujarat, including Ahmedabad and Surat, have shut down all operations as a precautionary measure. Barring the Rajkot airport, which will remain shut for flights till 11:15 am of May 19, other three airports – Ahmedabad, Surat and Vadodara – will remain shut for both domestic and international flights till May 18.
The Ahmedabad airport, which had suspended its operations on Monday evening, will resume its operations at 5 am on Tuesday. The state government has shifted over two lakh people to safer places and mobilised disaster response teams 44 of them from the NDRF and 10 from the SDRF.
In just two hours between 10 pm and 12 am, Una taluka of Gir-Somnath district received 131 mm of rainfall, followed by 110 mm in Khambha of Amreli, 76 mm in Gadhda of Gir-Somnath, 72 mm in Savarkundla in Amreli and 35 mm in Olpad taluka of Surat district, said a statement by the State Emergency Operations Centre. The Centre has offered all help to Gujarat to deal with the cyclone and asked the Army, Navy and the Air Force to remain on standby to assist the administration if need arises, the state government said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah are in touch with the state government and have extended all possible help, said Gujarat Chief Minister Rupani after holding a meeting with collectors of coastal districts which are likely to face the maximum brunt of the cyclone. The PM had called up Rupani and enquired about the state government’s preparedness to deal with the cyclone, the CM’s office said.
Modi, during the telephone conversation, had assured the state government of all possible help, it said. “Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday evening called up Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and sought details of preparation by the state government to deal with cyclone Tauktae,” a release from the Chief Minister’s Office said.
The CM informed Modi about the precautionary steps taken by the Gujarat government to deal with the cyclone, it said.