13 dead as Tauktae batters Gujarat; 90 missing from barge

A large signboard on the verge of collapse in a village in Gujarat after Cyclone Tauktae made landfall on Tuesday May 18, 2021.   | Photo Credit: Vijay Soneji

The severe cyclonic storm Tauktae that entered Saurashtra early on Tuesday, whipping up winds close to 180 kmph, has reduced in intensity and lay about 35 km west of Ahmedabad late in the evening, according to the India Meteorological Department (IMD).

Rain is expected to continue in Gujarat and Rajasthan for the next 24 hours as the storm further weakens into a “depression” near Jodhpur by Wednesday.

At least 13 people were killed in Gujarat as the storm wreaked damage on roads, power lines, trees and buildings. The Navy and the Coast Guard have so far rescued 320 people on board two barges in the Arabian Sea, near Mumbai.

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. Many areas of Ahmedabad were inundated after the city received a staggering 75.69 mm of rain between 6 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Also read: Armed forces gear up for Cyclone Tauktae

Ninety persons were still missing from Barge P-305 which sank 35 nautical miles from Mumbai amid rough seas. Till Tuesday evening, 183 survivors from the barge as well as all 137 persons on board another barge, the Gal Constructor, were rescued.

Naval ships INS Beas, Betwa and Teg joined INS Kochi and Kolkata in search and rescue operations (SAR) for Barge P-305, which went adrift off Heera oil fields in the Bombay High area on Monday with 273 onboard, a Navy spokesperson said. “SAR has also been augmented with a P-8I aircraft and naval helicopters,” he stated.

Gal Constructor went adrift due to engine trouble and ran aground about 48 nautical miles north of Colaba Point. “The crew have been airlifted and safely transferred to the nearby Wadrai beach,” the Coast Guard said.

The Navy spokesperson said SAR efforts were in progress off the coast of Gujarat for three other ONGC vessels — Support Station (SS)-3, Great Ship Aditi and drill ship Sagar Bhushan, which are 15-20 nautical miles southeast of Pipavav Port.

Also read: Cyclone Tauktae | Five killed as gale force winds, rain pummel Kerala, Karnataka

On the situation at Bombay High, ONGC said in a statement that due to Cyclone Tauktae three construction barges of Afcons working on a project of ONGC and one drilling rig of ONGC deployed for exploration purpose had been hit.

In the case of Barge P-305 and Barge ‘Support Station-3, the anchors had given away due to which they had drifting while drill ship Sagar Bhushan deployed for exploration lost its anchors and started drifting north, ONGC stated.

Army in Diu

The Army has activated six rescue and relief teams for operations in Diu.

Working overnight, the road between Gir and Diu, which was blocked at many places due to fallen trees, debris and damaged electrical wires, along with poles, was cleared by Army teams. This restored movement of essential supplies, medical support and civil traffic to aid cyclone relief in the Union Territory, the Army said.

Six additional Army teams which have been staged forward to Junagarh have now moved to Amreli.

Also read: Cyclone Tauktae | High waves, rainfall forecast for States on west coast

As many as 35 Gujarat 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, Chief Minister Rupani said.

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

In Patan, a woman died when an electric pole fell on her 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.

The Coast Guard on Tuesday rescued eight fishermen onboard a fishing boat that drifted into the sea off the coast of Veraval harbour.

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.

Districts such as Amreli, Bhavnagar, Navsari, Valsad, and Sabarkantha among others in Gujarat, and the Union Territory of Daman and Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Sabarkantha are likely to receive heavy to very heavy rainfall, she said.

Accurate forcast

M Rajeevan, Secretary, Ministry of Earth Sciences tweeted that the forecast for Tauktae, of the cyclone's trajectory and speed, matched what was observed. He, however, warned of another storm brewing in the Bay of Bengal around May 23.

Roxy Mathew Koll, climate scientist, Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune tweeted that Tauktae was the first 'Extremely Severe Cyclone' (characterised as with winds over 220 kmph) to reach close to Mumbai in 130 years and to impact all the five States on India's west coast. He's pointed earlier to the surface waters of the Arabian Sea warming up over the years — under the influence of global warming — and whetting tropical cyclones.

(With inputs from PTI)

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Printable version | Jun 17, 2021 11:15:13 AM |

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