The Indian Meteorological Department has downgraded Cyclone Tauktae, which slammed in Gujarat on Monday night, from “extremely severe” to “very severe”.
The storm is currently over Saurashtra, around 180 kilometres southwest of Ahmedabad. It is moving north-northeast with winds of 110-155 km per hour at its centre and is expected to further weaken, the IMD said.
According to news reports, three people were killed when the storm made landfall with gale force winds that sent waves crashing into the shore. Around 16,500 houses were destroyed and some 40,000 trees uprooted. The Gujarat administration evaluated more than two lakh people, but tens of thousands more were forced to flee from coastal villages to escape Tauktae’s fury.
SEVERE CYCLONIC STORM ‘TAUKTAE’ WEAKENED INTO A CYCLONIC STORM AND LAY CENTRED AT 1130 HRS IST OVER SAURASHTRA, NEAR LAT. 22.0°N AND LONG. 71.5°E, ABOUT 165 KM SOUTHWEST OF AHMEDABAD. TO MOVE NORTH NORTHEASTWARDS AND WEAKEN GRADUALLY INTO A DEEP DEPRESSION IN NEXT 06 HRS. pic.twitter.com/rIPcCNG39I
— India Meteorological Department (@Indiametdept) May 18, 2021
Forty-four disaster response teams were mobilised to work with local authorities in 20 districts. Chief Minister Vijay Rupani said 1,000 COVID hospitals in coastal towns were given generators to maintain electricity supply. He also said there was a buffer stock of 1,700 metric tonnes of liquid oxygen.
On Monday Maharashtra escaped the worst of the cyclone but Mumbai was lashed with 115 km per hour winds, forcing authorities to shut the airport and the Bandra-Worli Sea Link. The sea link was reopened on Tuesday. Water-logging was reported and vehicular movement slowed to a crawl. Visuals from the Gateway of India showed waves crashing into the culverts.
On Monday night the navy rescued 177 people on board a barge that went adrift in the Arabian Sea near Mumbai hours before the cyclone hit Gujarat coast, an official said on Tuesday. Navy ships were deployed on Monday after receipt of a request for assistance for Barge P305 adrift off Heera oil fields in Bombay High area with 273 personnel on board. The oil fields are around 70km southwest of Mumbai. Sixty people were rescued till 11pm and the remaining overnight, the official said.
Eight people died as Tauktae brushed past Karnataka over the weekend. State officials said over 120 villages in seven coastal districts were affected. Seven people also died in Kerala and nearly 1,500 houses were damaged, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan tweeted late Monday.