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Cyclone Gaja to hit Tamil Nadu coast soon with greater intensity; over 26,000 people evacuated

Tens of thousands of rescue personnel were on standby and many more people were evacuated in south Tamil Nadu coast as authorities braced for the landfall of Cyclone Gaja early Friday.

india Updated: Nov 15, 2018 23:52 IST
M Manikandan
M Manikandan
Chennai: Dark clouds hover over Marina beach before the arrival of cyclone 'Gaja', in Chennai, on Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018. Cyclone 'Gaja' intensified into a severe cyclonic storm and is expected to cross the south Tamil Nadu coast by late this evening or night, with the government machinery put on high alert in vulnerable districts.
Chennai: Dark clouds hover over Marina beach before the arrival of cyclone 'Gaja', in Chennai, on Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018. Cyclone 'Gaja' intensified into a severe cyclonic storm and is expected to cross the south Tamil Nadu coast by late this evening or night, with the government machinery put on high alert in vulnerable districts.(PTI)
         

Tens of thousands of rescue personnel were on standby and over 26,000 people were evacuated from coastal areas of south Tamil Nadu coast as authorities braced for Cyclone Gaja, which will, according to the weather office, now make landfall early Friday with a greater intensity than forecast earlier. The outer band of the pressure system has already hit land, bringing rain to coastal areas.

The severe cyclonic storm with wind speeds of 100 to 110 kms, gusting to 120 kms, will cross Tamil Nadu, south of Nagapattinam, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.

Its forecast also shows a storm surge or rising of the sea as a result of wind and atmospheric pressure changes of about 1 metre above astronomical tide. This is likely to inundate low-lying areas in Nagapattinam, Thanjavur, Pudukkottai and Ramanathapuram districts of Tamil Nadu and Karaikal district of Puducherry at the time of landfall.

After landfall, cyclone Gaja is likely to retain its intensity for about six hours, hence, gale winds of 60 to 70 km/hr are likely over interior districts of Tamil Nadu.

Heavy rains were lashing several parts of Nagapattinam district and surrounding areas, including Karaikal, since Thursday evening while power supply has been disconnected as a precautionary measure in the region, officials said.

Over 30,000 rescue personnel, 931 rescue vehicles and 400 ambulances were kept ready in seven coastal districts, authorities said.

Around 14,000 people living in low lying areas in Nagapattinam, Thanjavur, Pudukkottai, Thiruvarur and Cuddalore were shifted to relief centres earlier today.

Helicopters with food and materials were being rushed to Nagapattinam from the Eastern Naval Command at Vishakapatnam. 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.

Schools will remain closed in Nagapattinam, Cuddalore, Pudukkottai, Thiruvarur, Ramanathapuram and Thanjavur district Friday.

The IMD had earlier predicted that Gaja’s intensity would reduce to a cyclonic storm with wind speeds of 80 to 90 kmph. “Earlier, we had said that it will hit the coast between Pamban and Cuddalore, now we know it will hit somewhere south of Nagapattinam,” said Dr Mrityunjay Mohapatra, senior scientist at IMD.

The Tamil Nadu State Disaster Management Authority had earlier said Gaja was likely to have landfall between 8 pm and 11 pm in all probability in Nagapattinam district as the IMD had on Thursday morning sent a “red message” to alert officials that the cyclone is about 12 hours away from the coastline.“The red message is issued to alert concerned officers that the cyclones is at least 12 hours away. This message provides warning as well as post-landfall outlook,” said Mohapatra.

The IMD has also issued a red warning for rainfall over Tamil Nadu and Puducherry. Most places in the state are likely to receive heavy to very heavy rainfall on Thursday. Coastal areas such as Cuddalore, Nagapattinam, Karaikal, and Tuticorin and in-land areas like Thanjavur, Pudukottai, and Ramanathapuram are likely to get extremely heavy rainfall of more than 20 cms.

Major damage from the cyclone is likely in Cuddalore, Nagapattinam, Tiruvarur, Thanjavur, Pudukkottai and Ramanathapuram districts of Tamil Nadu and Karaikal of Puducherry.

Most places in south coastal Andhra Pradesh, Rayalaseema, and Kerala will receive rainfall, with heavy rainfalls in areas like Nellore, Prakasan, Chittoor, and isolated places in south Kerala.

The IMD has also issued Orange warning for Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, and Kerala for Friday, expecting heavy to very heavy rainfall in isolated areas.

First Published: Nov 15, 2018 20:07 IST

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