The impact of the storm was also felt in Goa, where trees were uprooted and power lines were snapped, according the Hindustan Times. Ferocious winds disrupted rail and road traffic, though no loss of life was immediately reported in the state.
Over 100 rescue teams are deployed for six states: Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Goa. The Indian Navy and Air Force is also helping with relief operations.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah held a meeting meeting with chief ministers of Maharashtra and Goa to review their preparedness to tackle the cyclone. Meanwhile, Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa said he was closely monitoring the situation, after heavy to extremely heavy rainfall was recorded in six districts of the state.
The IMD expects Tauktae to touch the Gujarat coast between Porbandar and Naliya around May 18, with wind speeds increasing to 175 km per hour. Rain is expected to intensify in coastal Karnataka, Maharashtra and Gujarat over the next 48 hours. Fishermen have been warned to stay off the sea, especially in Kerala where the storm caused heavy loss to property on Saturday.
This is the first cyclone of the year and comes at a time when India battles an unprecedented surge in Covid infections. Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a review meeting on Saturday evening, where he urged officials to make special preparations for Covid management in hospitals, vaccine cold chain, power backup and storage of essential medicines areas that are to be affected by the cyclone.
In Kerala, two people died on Saturday amid the heavy rain accompanying the storm in Ernakulam and Kozhikode districts and 2,000 others were forced to move to 71 camps, The Hindu reported. The state had recorded an average rainfall of 145.5 mm.
Thiruvananthapuram and Kasaragod witnessed widespread uprooting of trees, water-logging and disruption of power supplies, according to Onmanorama. The Central Water Commission issued a flood warning in Kerala in the wake of rising water levels in Manimala and Achankovil rivers.
The Kerala government also opened the shutters of at least 13 dams across the state to release excess water, according to The News Minute.
Meanwhile, authorities in Mumbai shifted 580 Covid patients from three jumbo centres as a precautionary measure. The Mumbai Police was exploring the option of shutting down the Bandra-Worli Sea Link, as heavy rain and strong winds are expected to lash the city on Sunday and Monday, according to The Indian Express.
“Depending on the situation, following updates from the IMD, the decision to close traffic on the Bandra-Worli Sea Link on Sunday will be taken,” said a police officer. The suburban rail services will run as per schedule, the official added.
In a review meeting on Saturday, the IMD informed Mumbai’s civic body, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, that the city was not in direct line of threat from the cyclone. However, as the storm will pass through the sea near the Mumbai coast, the city was likely to witness strong winds and rains.
Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant announced in a video message that his government had activated its lifesaving machinery on beaches to tackle the situation in view of the cyclone. In Gujarat, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani also held a meeting to review the state’s preparedness, and told officials to keep a “zero casualty” approach toward the storm.