Cyclone 'Gaja' kills 13, leaves trails of destruction in Tamil Nadu

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Destruction caused by Cyclone Gaja in Tamil Nadu
Destruction caused by Cyclone Gaja in Tamil Nadu

Tamil Nadu : The devastating cyclonic storm Gaja thrashed the Tamil Nadu coast, killing more than 13 people and leaving behind the trials of destruction in several districts.

Official report claims that the cyclone crossed the coast between Nagapattinam and Vedaranyam districts between 12.30am and 2.30am with wind speeds of about 110-120 kmph.

The cyclonic storm was so strong that it damaged the roof-sheets of the Nagapattinam railway station. Also, the thatched and tiled roofs of several houses were severely damaged in the cyclonic winds.

Devastations took place on the highways and communication links in Vedaranyam were also affected. Popular hill-station, Kodaikanal was affected due to fallen trees. In some places like Pudukottai walls of houses collapsed due to rains.

Reports claim that Gaja affected 12,000 power poles in seven districts, 102 power sub-stations in districts like Nagapattinam, Thanjavur, Thiruvarur. According to the state power utility, about 500 km of power supply lines were affected. Officials said it would take at least two days to restore power supply in full in districts like Nagapattinam and Thiruvarur.

Chief Minister K. Palaniswami said in Salem, some 350 km from the state capital, that 13 persons had lost their lives in the cyclone.

The chief minister also promised to compensate a sum of Rs 10 lakh would be paid to each family of the dead. For those severely injured, a sum of Rs 100,000 would be paid and those who suffered minor injuries would get Rs 25,000.

About 82,000 people living in low-lying areas have been sent to 471 relief centres, the Chief Minister said, adding the preventive measures helped keep the death toll low.

Relief centres were set up in Cuddalore, Nagapattinam, Ramanathapuram, Thanjavur, Pudukottai and Thiruvarur on Thursday itself.

For now, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) has forecast scattered heavy to very heavy rain over Tiruchirapalli, Namakkal, Dindigul, Madurai, Theni, Karur, Coimbatore, Tiruppur, Nilgiris and Virudhunagar districts of Tamil Nadu.

Owing to the cyclone, two Indian Navy ships, Chetlat and Cheriam have been diverted to Karaikal in Puducherry to render assistance to state authorities as required for disaster relief operations. Three Indian Navy ships, namely Darshak, Carnicobar, and Coradivh, are on standby at Chennai, while INS Ranvir and Khanjar are at Vizag to augment relief efforts at short notice, noted an official release from the Navy. One helicopter sortie was flown from INS Parundu to assess the effect of Gaja damages in and around Ramanathapuram.