The India Meteorological Department on Saturday said that Cyclone Tauktae was expected to turn into a “very severe cyclonic storm” in the next 12 hours and move north-northwestwards and reach near Gujarat coast by the morning of May 18.

Meanwhile, amid heavy rainfall, the Kerala government announced red alerts in five of its northern districts for Saturday, reported The Hindu.

In its Saturday morning bulletin, the weather forecasting agency said that the cyclone was moving at a speed of 7 km per hour and was situated over the Arabian Sea and the Lakshadweep area at 2.30 am. It was located near north-northwest of Amini Divi islands, 300 km west-northwest of Kannur in Kerala.

The IMD has so far predicted light to moderate rainfall at most places but heavy to heavy heavy rainfall in isolated areas in Lakshadweep, Kerala and Tamil Nadu on Saturday. Kerala was also expected to continue facing heavy to very heavy rainfall at isolated places on May 16 and 17, according to the government agency.

The IMD has also issued a warning to fishermen to avoid the sea till May 18 and asked to restrict tourism activities.

On Thursday, the Kerala State Disaster Management Authority, had banned fishing near the coast of the state till May 17. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan also advised fishermen to not venture into the sea.

More than 50 teams of the National Disaster Response Force have been deployed in Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Maharashtra, reported NDTV.

The Indian Navy’s spokesperson said that its ships, helicopters, aircraft, diving and disaster relief teams were on standby for “rendering full support to state administrations as the cyclonic storm approaches western coasts.”

Tauktae is the first cyclonic storm of 2021. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will hold a meeting to review preparations for the cyclone later in the day, reported ANI.

Red alert in five Kerala districts

The Kerala government sounded an alert in five districts – Malappuram, Kozhikode, Wayanad, Kannur and Kasaragod.

The districts of Kollam, Kottayam, Pathanamthitta, Idukki, Alappuzha, Ernakulam and Thrissur were put on orange alert. The state government also issued a yellow alert for Thiruvananthapuram and Palakkad districts, which may receive scattered heavy rainfall on Saturday, according to the IMD.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said his administration was on high alert to tackle the contingencies. Nine teams of NDRF were stationed in Kollam, Alappuzha, Idukki, Ernakulam, Thrissur, Malappuram, Kozhikode, Wayanad and Pathanamthitta. Another team of the Indian Army’s Defence Service Corps is deployed in Kasaragod, while two teams are in Kannur.

The government also opened 17 relief camps. In the Thiruvananthapuram district, 78 families were evacuated to the camps.

On Friday, Kerala witnessed heavy rain and winds under the influence of deep depression caused by the cyclone. The state also suffered sea erosion in coastal areas that prompted the district administration to evacuate families from the region.

Meanwhile, two persons died in separate rain-related incidents, reported The New Indian Express. Adarsh KM, a 19-year-old man, drowned in the Chenoth river in Kozhikode while taking a bath. The second death was reported when the body of an elderly man was found in a waterlogged area at Chellanam in Ernakulam.