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Cyclone Tauktae Kills 19, Heavy Rains Lash Parts of Gujarat

Cyclone Tauktae Kills 19, Heavy Rains Lash Parts of Gujarat

Members of the Indian Navy transport a rescued person to receive medical attention in the aftermath of cyclone Tauktae’s landfall, Mumbai, May 18, 2021. Photo: Indian Navy/Handout via Reuters

Ahmedabad: A cyclone on India’s west coast has killed at least 19 people and damaged infrastructure and agriculture, while heavy rains continued to lash some regions even as weather officials said on Tuesday that the storm’s intensity had weakened.

The cyclone Tauktae, which made landfall in the western state of Gujarat late on Monday, has hit power supply in 2,400 villages in the state as a thousand electricity pylons were damaged, chief minister Vijay Rupani said in a media address.

Nearly 160 roads have been destroyed, 40,000 trees uprooted and several houses damaged, Rupani added.

“Heavy rains and wind speeds of up to 100-110 kmph (62-68 mph) are continuing at many places, and the whole administration remains on standby to deal with any situation,” he added.

More than 200,000 people had been evacuated from their homes in Gujarat before Tauktae made landfall, packing gusts of up to 210 kph (130 mph).

The cyclone which was categorised as “extremely severe” weakened to a “very severe” storm after making landfall, the Indian Meteorological Department said. The intensity is set to reduce further in the next few hours, it added.

Tauktae, the most powerful cyclone in more than two decades, piles pressure on India which is already grappling with a staggering spike in coronavirus cases and deaths as well as a shortage of beds and oxygen in hospitals.

“Our priority is to clear the roads, so there is no impact on oxygen movement” due to the cyclone, said Gaurang Makwana, the top official of Bhavnagar district in Gujarat.

Rupani assured that oxygen manufacturing had not been hit and hospitals with COVID-19 patients remained unaffected.

A survey has also been initiated in Gujarat to ascertain the agricultural losses due to the cyclone.

“The standing crops would have suffered definite losses, especially in areas of Saurashtra where the cyclone hit the hardest,” said Manish Bhardwaj, principal secretary at the state agriculture department.

Before reaching Gujarat, the cyclone left a trail of destruction as it brushed past the coastal states of Kerala, Karnataka, Goa, as well as Maharashtra, home to India’s financial hub of Mumbai, authorities said.

The Indian navy said it had rescued 177 people from one of two barges that were adrift near the Mumbai coastline, adding that planes and helicopters had been deployed to scour the seas.

No damage to ports and refineies

In Gujarat, no damages have been reported at the refineries and sea ports that were expected to be in the storm’s path.

At the Jamnagar refinery, the world’s biggest oil refinery complex that is owned by Reliance Industries, no damage was reported, a company spokesman told Reuters.

Operations at the Mundra port, India’s largest private port, have resumed, a port official said.

The Kandla Port, the largest government-run port in the country, has however not resumed operations as wind speeds of more than 70 kmph made it unsafe to do so, port officials said.

“We may resume operations in the afternoon today depending on the weather conditions,” S.K. Mehta, chairman of Kandla Port, said, adding there was no damage in the port.

(Reuters – additional reporting by Sudarsha Varadhan; Writing by Sanjeev Miglani and Nupur Anand; Editing by Himani Sarkar)

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