Tauktae weakens as cyclonic storm but rains lash parts of Gujarat; 7 dead so far

Cyclone ‘Tauktae,’ crossed the Gujarat coast as an “extremely severe cyclonic storm” around midnight and gradually weakened into a “severe cyclonic storm,” before further weakening to a “cyclonic storm” now, the IMD said.

The cyclonic storm dumped heavy showers in parts of the state, with as many as 35 talukas receiving over one inch of rainfall. (Photo Source: PTI)

At least seven people were killed in Gujarat as cyclone Tauktae battered parts of the state and left behind a trail of destruction along the coast, uprooting electric poles and trees, and damaging several houses and roads, before weakening, officials said on Tuesday.

Tauktae has now weakened into a “cyclonic storm” and will gradually become a “deep depression” as it moves northwards, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.

The cyclonic storm dumped heavy showers in parts of the state, with as many as 35 talukas receiving over one inch of rainfall.

Heavy showers left many areas of Ahmedabad city inundated with knee-deep water during the day.

Over 16,000 houses were damaged, and more than 40,000 trees and over 1,000 poles uprooted due to the cyclonic storm in Gujarat, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani said.

The Indian Coast Guard on Tuesday rescued eight fishermen onboard a fishing boat that drifted into the sea off the coast of Veraval harbour due to the cyclone, officials said.

Besides, two Coast Guard Chetak helicopters, operating from the CG airbase at the Union Territory of Daman, rescued eight crew members of the stranded ship ‘Gal Constructor’ from the sea off the Satpati coast (in neighbouring Maharashtra) amidst very rough and inclement weather conditions, a release said.

The landfall process of the eye of the extremely severe cyclonic storm Tauktae, which had hit the Gujarat coast in the Saurashtra region between Diu and Una last night, ended around midnight, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.

As many as 35 talukas received more than one inch of rainfall, with Bagasara taluka receiving 9 inches of rainfall, Gir Gadhada 8 inches, Una 8 inches, Savarkundla 7 inches and Amreli 5 inches. Rajula, Khamba, and Babra talukas each received 5 inches of rainfall, the CM said.

Many areas of Ahmedabad city were inundated with knee-deep water following incessant downpour since afternoon as cyclone Tauktae passed northward along the district’s periphery.

The city received a staggering 75.69 mm of rain between 6 am and 4 pm, said Municipal Commissioner Mukesh Kumar.

Cyclone ‘Tauktae,’ crossed the Gujarat coast as an “extremely severe cyclonic storm” around midnight and gradually weakened into a “severe cyclonic storm,” before further weakening to a “cyclonic storm” now, the IMD said.

As it moved north-northeastward, it is gradually going to weaken into a “deep depression”, it added.

The remnant of the system is very likely to move north-eastwards across Rajasthan to west Uttar Pradesh during May 19 and 20, the Home Ministry said in an advisory.

As of late Tuesday afternoon, the cyclonic storm lay centred over Saurashtra, around 75 km south-southwest of Ahmedabad and 40 km west of Surendranagar, and 190 km of Deesa, with the wind intensity now reduced to 70-80 kmph gusting to 90 kmph, the IMD said.

IMD (Ahmedabad) chief Manorama Mohanty told reporters the cyclonic storm is likely to prevail with a wind speed of 45-55 kmph gusting to 65 kmph, anddistrictssuch as Amreli, Bhavnagar, Navsari, Valsad, and Sabarkantha among others in Gujarat, and the Union Territory of Daman and Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Sabarkantha arelikey to receive heavy to very heavy rainfall.

“The cyclone completed the landfall in Gujarat at 1:30 am last night, with Amreli, Gir Somnath, Junagadh, Porbandar, Rajkot, Bhavnagar, and Botad districts in Saurashtra region remaining the worst affected,” said Additional Chief Secretary (Revenue) Pankaj Kumar.

The intensity of the wind has gradually reduced and this process will continue till the evening, he said.  “Looking at its movement, we need to take extreme precaution till night,” he told reporters.

Even as the cyclonic intensity weakened, it has left behind a trail of destruction, with at least seven people losing their lives – three in Bhavnagar, and one each in Rajkot, Patan, Amreli and Valsad, officials said.

An official of the State Emergency Operation Centre (SEOC) confirmed three casualties due to the cyclone, one each from Rajkot, Valsad and Bhavnagar.

In Patan, an electric pole fell on a woman while she was sleeping on late Monday night amid strong wind, an official from Patan A-division police station said.

In Badeli village in Palitana taluka of Bhavnagar district, a woman and her daughter were killed when the wall of their house collapsed, a local official said.

In another incident, a girl died after the roof of her house collapsed on four members of the family at Rajula in Amreli district on Monday night, police said.

The chief minister told reporters in Gandhinagar that 16,500 houses, mostly thatched ones, were damaged, and more than 40,000 trees and 1,081 poles, mainly of electric supply, were uprooted due to the cyclone.

Also, 159 roads were damaged and 196 remained blocked due to different reasons, he said, adding that 45 of the roads were cleared for traffic so far.

There was a power outage in 2,437 villages and the supply has been restored in 484 villages till now, the CM said.

Rupani said the state government’s major concern was to ensure the uninterrupted treatment to COVID-19 patients in around 1,400 hospitals across the state.

Out of these facilities, 16 faced power outage due to the cyclone.

The electric supply was restored in 12 of them, while the remaining four were operating on backup power generators, he said.

The production of medical oxygen at a plant in Bhavnagar was disrupted due to the cyclonic storm, but the supply continued using the buffer stock, Rupani said.  According to the IMD, most places in Gujarat and Saurashtra meteorological regions of the state are likely to receive light to moderate rainfall on Tuesday, with heavy to very rainfall and extremely heavy rainfall in isolated places.

The wind speed is likely to decrease but “astronomical high” tidal waves would continue to inundate coastal areas, it said.

“The administration remains on standby and is working to clear roads, restore power and water supplies. The animal husbandry department is taking care of the cattle by shifting them to safer places,” Rupani said.

The state government had shifted over two lakh people to safer locations before the cyclone hit the Gujarat coast on Monday night.

The landfall process started with the entry of the “forward sector of the eye of the cyclone” into the land near the Union Territory of Diu with a wind speed of between 150 and 175 km per hour, IMD officials said.

Landfall is the storm moving over the land after its intensification in the ocean (heat source).

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 this was grossly an understatement.

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