Cyclone Tauktae began the process of landfall on the Gujarat coast around 8.30 p.m. on Monday night as the State braced for the impact of surging wind speeds of up to 210 km/h. Earlier in the day, six persons were killed as the “extremely severe cyclonic storm” ran parallel to the Maharashtra coast and wound its way to Gujarat.
“Landfall process is continuing, it will take another three hours to complete its landfall process,” the Meteorological Department said about Tauktae in a 9.16 p.m. tweet on its official handle.
At least 1.5 lakh people were moved to safer areas in Gujarat with Tauktae expected to hit the coast between Porbandar and Mahua in Bhavnagar district, east of Diu, as Army and NDRF personnel were deployed in the State. “Focus is to save lives, speedy clearance of routes to ensure movement of oxygen and standby arrangements at COVID hospitals,” an Army tweet said.
It’s expected to whittle down to a “very severe cyclonic storm” — still rustling up wind speeds of up to 170 kmph — and by early Tuesday become a “severe cyclonic storm”. Wind speeds are expected to remain around 100 kmph during Tauktae’s journey for most of Tuesday. It is expected to peter out into a “depression” near Jodhpur by Wednesday.
Storms are common in the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea in May, ahead of the monsoon onset—predicted to be May 31 this year—though climatologists have said there is an increase in the number of such storms in the Arabian Sea in recent years. Tauktae is the fourth cyclone in as many years over the Arabian Sea in the pre-monsoon months.
Deaths, damage in Maharashtra
Six people died and nine were injured on Monday as Cyclone Tauktae, which passed parallel to Maharashtra’s coastline, left a trail of damaged homes, and uprooted trees.
In Mumbai, the heavy rains coincided with high tide and strong winds leading to hundreds of trees being uprooted and waterlogging in low lying areas of the city.
At 12.15 p.m. Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s automated weather centre recorded a wind speed of 111 kmph at Colaba in South Mumbai. At 2 p.m., it was recorded at 114 kmph. This is the highest ever wind speed in Mumbai.
The administration moved over 12,400 citizens to safety from coastal Sindhudurg, Ratnagiri and Raigad districts. Two fishing boats capsized in Devgad, in Sindhudurg, leaving one sailor dead. Another sailor was rescued, while three others are missing.
While three deaths were reported from Raigad, two people died in Thane district. Four of the nine injured were from Mumbai, two each from Ratnagiri and Raigad and one from Thane. In all, 2,542 houses were partially destroyed.
The Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (CSMIA) suspended all flight operations from 11 a.m on Monday. Seven flights were diverted through the day. It resumed operations from 10 p.m.
In a daring operation involving the Indian Coast Guard, the Indian Navy and the Dakshina Kannada district administration, all the nine crew stranded on board Tug Coromondel Supporter IX, which ran aground on a rocky formation mid-sea off the Karnataka coast near Mangaluru, were rescued on Monday morning.
While speed boats from Indian Coast Guard Ship, ICGS Varaha rescued five, Indian Navy’s advanced light helicopter IN 702 that joined the rescue operations from Southern Naval Command, Kochi, airlifted four. All crew were safe.
Karnataka Revenue Minister R. Ashoka, who visited New Mangalore Port Trust to take stock of the situation following Cyclone Tauktae’s impact on Monday, ordered a statutory inquiry by the Dakshina Kannada Deputy Commissioner to go into the reasons for the mishap of Coromondel as well as Tug Alliance that capsized off Karnataka Coast on Saturday leaving two dead and three missing.
Since Tug Alliance was contracted to Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd., for its single point mooring operations, Mr. Ashoka said the company has agreed to pay ₹10 lakh compensation to the families of the deceased. Steps would be taken to remove diesel from both the Tugs, he added.