Nearly 1.5 lakh residents of Gujarat were being evacuated from low-lying coastal areas in Gujarat as Cyclone Tauktae advanced closer to the state on Sunday evening, PTI reported. The cyclone is likely to make landfall on Tuesday morning.
At 5.30 pm, the cyclone, which has now intensified into a “very severe cyclonic storm”, was located 470 kilometres south-southeast of the Union Territory of Diu, the India Meteorological Department said.
Around 6 pm, India Meteorological Department Director General Mrutyunjay Mohapatra said that the cyclone was very likely to intensify further during the next 24 hours, resulting in heavy to very heavy rainfall in coastal areas of Gujarat on May 17 and May 18.
“It is very likely to cross Gujarat coast between Porbandar and Mahuva in Bhavnagar district around 18 May early morning,” Mohapatra added. “At the time of landfall, wind speed is expected to be 155-165 kilometres per hour.”
Several other parts of Gujarat and neighbouring states will also face inclement weather till then.
Earlier on Sunday, heavy rains battered Kerala and parts of Maharashtra, while trees were uprooted and power lines were snapped in Goa. Videos and photos on social media show parts of these states affected by the rain and storm.
Cabinet Secretary holds meeting
On Sunday afternoon, Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba chaired a meeting of the National Crisis Management Committee on the cyclone, with chief secretaries of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Officials of the neighbouring Union Territories and secretaries of various union ministries were also present at the meeting.
Apart from ensuring arrangements to restore power, telecom and other important services, Gauba also emphasised on the need to avoid disruption of functioning of hospitals and Covid-19 Care Centres and maintenance of regular supply of oxygen to them. Earlier, Union Home Minister Amit Shah held a meeting with chief ministers of Maharashtra and Goa to review their preparedness to tackle the cyclone.
Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani on Sunday said that hospitals treating Covid-19 patients have been asked to ensure power back-up and arrangements were made to ensure uninterrupted generation of medical oxygen in eight manufacturing units, PTI reported.
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. Four people have died and 73 villages across six districts in Karnataka have been destroyed by the cyclone, according to the Hindustan Times.
Over 100 rescue teams are deployed for six states of Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Goa. The Indian Navy and Air Force is also helping with relief operations.
Mumbai Mayor Kishori Pednekar told ANI that coronavirus vaccination is likely to be suspended in the city on Monday due to the cyclone. It will resume from Tuesday. In Gujarat, vaccinations will be on hold till Tuesday.