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Cyclone Tauktae weakens into severe storm as it crosses Gujarat, lies overland

The wind speed at the Union Territory of Diu was 133 kmph when the cyclone started making its landfall at around 9.30 pm, the Met office said.

Published: 17th May 2021 10:54 PM  |   Last Updated: 18th May 2021 05:27 AM   |  A+A-

A man walks past a roadside shop that was damaged after a tree fell on it during a heavy rain in Mumbai. (Photo | AP)

By PTI

MUMBAI: As Cyclone Tauktae continues to impact several states on the Western Coast including Gujarat, damaging structures, electricity lines, and uprooting trees, the India Meteorological Department on Tuesday informed that the cyclone is continuing to show a weakening trend.

The entire eye of severe Cyclone Tauktae has now crossed the Gujarat coast and lies overland.

"Its eye is disorganising and wall cloud is weakening", as reported by IMD in a tweet.

A very severe cyclonic storm with winds gusting up to 185 km per hour began making landfall on the Gujarat coast Monday night, after dumping heavy rains on Mumbai, forcing the evacuation of over 1.5 lakh people in Gujarat and leaving two barges with 410 people on board adrift in the Arabian Sea.

Tropical storm 'Tauktae' (pronounced as Tau'Te) which had intensified into a very severe cyclonic storm, lies close to the Gujarat coast, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.

"The landfall process of extremely severe cyclonic storm Tauktae has started as forward sector of eye of the storm is entering the Saurashtra coast to the east of Diu," the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said in Ahmedabad.

Six persons were killed in Maharashtra's Konkan region in separate incidents related to the severe cyclonic storm and three sailors remained missing after two boats sank in the sea, officials said.

Three persons died in Raigad district, a sailor in Sindhudurg district and two persons were killed in Navi Mumbai and Ulhasnagar in Thane district after trees fell on them.

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Major airports in the state shutdown operations till Tuesday as a precautionary measure.

Barring the Rajkot airport, which will remain shut for flights till May 19, other three major airports - Ahmedabad, Surat and Vadodara - will remain closed for both domestic and international flights till Tuesday, officials said.

The Ahmedabad airport, which suspended its operations on Monday evening, will resume flights after 5 am on Tuesday.

"The Ahmedabad airport is fully prepared for cyclone Tauktae, and as a precautionary measure our operations will remain suspended from 19:30 hrs, 17th May to 05:00 hrs, 18th May 2021," the airport said in a statement.

Both Vadodara and Surat airports suspended take off and landing of flights at 11 am on Monday and will resume operations at 1 pm on Tuesday, the officials said.

The Rajkot airport has announced that its operations, which came to a halt at 4 pm on Monday, will remain suspended till 11:15 hours on May 19.

The tropical storm 'Tauktae' (pronounced as Tau'Te), which had intensified into a very severe cyclonic storm, lies close to the Gujarat coast, the IMD said.

The wind speed at the Union Territory of Diu was 133 kmph when the cyclone started making its landfall at around 9.30 pm, the Met office said.

The ESCS (extremely severe cyclonic storm) TAUKTAE lies close to Gujarat coast.

The landfall process started and will continue during next 02 hours, IMD said in a Twitter post.

"The forward sector of eye is entering into the land. The centre of the cyclone will cross Saurashtra coast to the east of Diu within next 03 hours. Outer cloud band lies over Saurashtra," the IMD said in another tweet.

An IMD official said the eye of the storm is likely to cross the Gujarat coast in about two hours.

"We expect that the eye of the storm will cross the coast in about two hours," said Assistant Director of the Gujarat Meteorological Centre Manorama Mohanty.

She said Tauktae, potentially the most devastating cyclone to hit Gujarat in almost 23 years, would make a landfall anywhere between the Union Territory of Diu and Mahuva town of Bhavnagar district just near Diu.

Gujarat Chief Minister also confirmed that the process of landfall has started.

He 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.

"It is predicted that the landfall would happen after around 2 hours. The effect continues even after the eye of the storm would pass. Thus, the effect of the cyclone will remain till 1 am," Rupani told reporters in Gandhinagar.

Mohanty said the place above which the eye of a cyclone crosses is designated as the "place of landfall".

The Gujarat government has shifted over 2 lakh people from low-lying areas in coastal towns to safer places and mobilised disaster response teams 44 from the NDRF and 10 from the SDRF - officials said.

Two boats with seven sailors on board, anchored in the Anandwadi harbour in Sindhudurg district capsized, an official statement said.

As the cyclone moved past the Maharashtra coast in the morning, Mumbai's Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport initially announced the suspension of operations from 11 am to 2 pm and later decided to keep all operations shut till 8 pm.

Over 1.5 lakh people were shifted from low-lying coastal areas in Gujarat, while 54 teams of the NDRF and SDRF remained deployed, an official said.

At least 17 COVID-19 patients on ventilator support in the Porbandar Civil Hospital's ICU were shifted to other facilities on Monday as a precautionary measure because of cyclone Tauktae which is heading towards the Gujarat coast, an official said.

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 the need arises, the Gujarat government said.

ALSO READ | Cyclone-induced rains have affected Konkan farmers: Maharashtra minister Nawab Malik

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 Vijay Rupani after holding a meeting with collectors of coastal districts which are likely to face the maximum brunt of the cyclone.

The PM called up Rupani and enquired about the state government's preparedness to deal with the cyclone, the CMO said.

A major cyclone in Gujarat on June 9, 1998 had brought widespread death and destruction in its wake, particularly in the port town of Kandla.

While official figures had then put the death toll at 1,173, adding 1,774 went missing, media reports, eyewitness and volunteer accounts suggested that this was grossly an understatement.

A leading news magazine had then claimed that at least 4,000 people had died and countless went missing as bodies were washed to the sea.

The Indian Navy on Monday deployed three of its frontline warships after receiving messages to rescue 410 people on board two barges off the Mumbai coast.

The ships deployed to extend assistance to the two barges were INS Kolkata, INS Kochi and INS Talwar.

"On receipt of a request for assistance for a barge 'P305' adrift off Heera oil fields in Bombay high area with 273 personnel onboard, INS Kochi was swiftly sailed with a despatch for search and rescue assistance," Indian Navy spokesperson Commander Vivek Madhwal said.

The oil fields are around 70 km southwest of Mumbai.

"In response to another SOS received from barge 'GAL Constructor' with 137 people onboard about 8NM from Mumbai, INS Kolkata has been sailed to render assistance," the Navy officer said.

A Navy spokesperson in Mumbai said in the night that the rescue operations on Barge 305 were being undertaken amid extreme weather conditions.

The Indian Coast Guard said it rescued 12 fishermen stranded around 35 nautical miles off the Kochi coast amid rough seas due to the cyclone on the night of May 16.

Gale-force winds, heavy rainfall and high tidal waves swept the coastal belts of Maharashtra and Goa as Tauktae hurtled northwards towards Gujarat.

Winds blew at 114 kmph in Mumbai on Monday afternoon as the cyclonic storm passed close to the Mumbai coast, civic officials said.

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The highest wind speed of 108 km per hour was recorded at the Colaba observatory in the afternoon, said Shubhangi Bhute, senior director, IMD Mumbai.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Monday took stock of the situation in Mumbai, Thane and other coastal districts of the state in the wake of the cyclonic storm.

As Mumbai and other coastal areas continued to be battered with heavy rains, over 12,000 people were relocated to safer places from the coastal areas.

These include 8,380 people in Raigad, 3,896 in Ratnagiri and 144 in Sindhudurg districts.

On Monday, Mumbaikars woke up witnessing gusty winds and heavy showers due to the cyclone.

Many Mumbaikars are enjoying the change in weather amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Meanwhile, eight people have lost their lives so far in the Cyclone-hit coastal and surrounding malnad districts of Karnataka, officials said on Monday.

According to a situation report by Karnataka State Disaster Management Authority officials, till this evening, 121 villages in seven districts of Dakshina Kannada, Udupi, Uttara Kannada, Kodagu, Chikkamagaluru, Hassan and Belagavi have been affected by the cyclone.

Among the 121 villages affected, a maximum of 48 are from Uttara Kannada district.

Among the eight deaths reported, two each are from Dakshina Kannada and Belagavi, and one each from Uttara Kannada, Udupi, Chikkamagaluru and Shivamogga, officials said.

While two deaths have been reported in Dakshina Kannada because of drowning in sea due to a tug being adrift, two died in Belagavi due to house collapse.

A fisherman who went to tie his boat died in Uttara Kannada died as he got hit by another boat, while one person died of electric mishap in Udupi.

One death each were reported in Chikkamagaluru and Shivamogga due to house collapse and lightning respectively.

Damage to 387 houses have been reported.

Among them, 57 houses are fully damaged and 330 are partially damaged, the report said.

One animal loss has been reported from Dakshina Kannada.

A total of 711 poles, 153 transformers, 9,203 metres of lines, 56.2 km of road, 57 nets and 116 boats have been damaged, it said, adding that agriculture and horticulture crop losses haave been estimated in about 30 hectares and in about 2.87 hectares, respectively.

The Met department has forecasted thunderstorms accompanied by lightning with light to moderate spells of rain and gusty winds speed reaching 30-40 kmph is likely to affect Dakshina Kannada, Uttara Kannada, Kodagu, Belagavi, Dharwad, Chamarajanagara, Ramangara, Bengaluru Urban and Rural, Ballari, Chitradurga and Chikkaballapura districts.

Officials on Sunday had said as the cyclone system was moving further north, towards Maharashtra coast, the cyclone's impact was likely to come down from Monday over the State.

Around 1,000 trained personnel from fire force, police, coastal police, home guards, SDRF have been deployed in the three coastal and neighbouring districts for rescue and relief operations, and NDRF teams have also been roped in.

Meanwhile, officials said all 9 crew members stranded on tug 'Coromandel' have been rescued.

Indian Navy's ALH helicopter has rescued four seamen stranded onboard the Tug which had run aground close to the coast of New Mangalore, while 5 of them were rescued by boat, they said, adding that they are being provided medical treatment.

Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa has thanked the Indian Navy and Coast Guard for the rescue operation.

Mumbai airport resumes flight operations after 11-hour hiatus

Flight operations at Mumbai airport resumed on Monday night after being suspended for 11 hours due to the cyclone Tauktae.

More than 55 flights, both incoming and outbound, were cancelled at the city's till around 7.30 pm due to the closure.

The Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport had announced suspension of all air services, initially for three hours from 11 am on Monday due to the cyclone.

This was later extended eventually to 10 pm in different phases.

"Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (CSMIA) has resumed operations with effect from 2200 hours of May 17," the private airport operator said in a statement.

The airport operator said it has registered the cancellations of 34 arrivals and 22 departures, adding that a few airlines have decided to cancel services to Mumbai.

CSMIA, however, did not provide specific details.

Mumbai airport, which is the second busiest aerodrome in the country, is reportedly handling around 250 flights in a day due to low passenger demand amid the deadly and more virulent second wave of the pandemic.

Pre-pandemic, the airport was handling close to 1,000 aircraft movements per day.

The airport has also so far witnessed seven diversions, it added.

Winds blew at 114 kmph in Mumbai on Monday afternoon, officials said.

Several parts of Mumbai and neighbouring areas witnessed heavy downpour coupled with high speed winds.

The civic body said its automatic weather stations recorded an average 105.44 mm rainfall in the island city till 5 pm, while the eastern and western suburbs recorded 61.13 mm and 114.78 mm rainfall, respectively.

The Mumbai Met department recorded 189 mm rainfall at Colaba observatory while a rainfall of 194 mm was recorded at Santacruz till 5.30 pm.

The civic H-East ward in the Western suburbs received the highest 242 mm rainfall during the day.

Chincholi area in Malad and K-East ward that includes Marol and Andheri East areas recorded 236 mm and 231 mm rainfall, respectively.

The Bandra-Worli sea-link was closed for traffic in view of the strong winds and people were asked to take alternate routes, another senior official of the BMC said.

The Colaba area in south Mumbai recorded a wind speed of 102 km per hour around 11 am.

As per the Mumbai IMD, the highest wind speed of 108 km per hour was recorded at the Colaba observatory in the afternoon, said Shubhangi Bhute, senior director, IMD Mumbai.

The wind speed of 114 kmph, the highest during the day, was recorded around 2 pm at the BMC's automatic weather station located at Afghan Church in south Mumbai's Colaba area.

At the same time, the Colaba observatory witnessed the wind speed of 108 kmph, the civic body said.

Local trains services of the Central Railway were disrupted between suburban Ghatkopar and Vikhroli for about half-an-hour as a tree fell on an overhead wire while a train was heading towards neighbouring Thane, a railway spokesperson said.

Services on the harbour line, that provides rail connectivity to Navi Mumbai, were also affected after a vinyl banner fell on an overhead wire between Chunabhatti and Guru Tej Bahadur stations around 11.45 am.

The banner was removed after about half-an-hour and train services were resumed, he said.

Due to the strong winds, some plastic sheets covering the roof of the common passenger area between the suburban and main lines at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) were blown away in the morning, he said.

The area was cordoned off and the railway staff immediately attended to it, he said.

Despite the civic body's claims of drains having been cleaned as part of preparedness for the upcoming monsoon season, there was water-logging in several low-lying areas of the city.

The Mumbai police tweeted about water-logging in six low-lying areas, including the Hindmata junction, Andheri subway and Malad Subway, crucial for the east-west connectivity.

A citizen in a Twitter post claimed a temporary pandal erected for vaccination in Dahisar was partially damaged due to the heavy rain and high velocity winds.

However, civic officials did not confirm it.

As a precautionary measure, the monorail services in the city were suspended for the day, the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) said.

This was a "prompt decision" taken for the safety of commuters, the MMRDA said.

Flight operations at Mumbai airport remained suspended for 11 hours before resuming on Monday night.

More than 55 flights, both incoming and outbound, were cancelled at the city's airport till around 7.30 pm due to the closure.

The Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport had announced suspension of all air services, initially for three hours from 11 am on Monday due to the cyclone.

This was later extended eventually to 10 pm in different phases.

According to civic officials, around 34 incidents of tree fall were reported in Mumbai since Sunday, but there was no report of any injury to anyone.

The civic-run Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) undertaking has deployed officers of its transport and power wings at various locations, including control rooms for disaster management.

According to civic officials, the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and the Indian Navy were on alert as Cyclone Tauktae intensified to a very severe cyclonic storm and was passing close to Mumbai.

Six flood rescue teams of the Mumbai fire brigade were deployed at chowpatties and five temporary shelters each were kept ready in 24 civic wards of the city to shift citizens there if required, they said.

The IMD has predicted heavy rainfall at isolated places in Mumbai and suburbs within the next 24 hours and the speed of winds could go up to 120 kmph.

(With inputs from ANI and IMD).



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