At least 13 persons died and public infrastructure and private properties in seven districts were damaged as Cyclone Gaja wreaked havoc in Tamil Nadu on Friday. The severe cyclonic storm that made a midnight landfall near Vedaranyam in Nagapattinam district left a trail of destruction over seven hours with wind speeds as high as 110 kmph.
The cyclonic system also led to the shifting of over 81,000 people in Nagapattinam, Cuddalore, Tiruvarur, Thanjavur, Pudukkottai, Ramanathapuram and Tiruchi districts to 471 relief camps, left 28 livestock dead and felled over 5,000 trees and about 13,000 electric poles across the State.
Life was hit severely in these districts as the supply of electricity and essentials was disrupted and transport was affected. But government agencies began relief operations on a war footing to restore normalcy in a few hours.
Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami condoled the death of the 13 persons and announced a solatium of ₹10 lakh to each of their families. The CM announced that ₹1 lakh would be granted to those who sustained serious injuries and ₹25,000 for persons with minor injuries.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted that he spoke to the Chief Minister and assured “all possible help from the Centre.”
Meanwhile, another low pressure area is likely to form over the central parts of the South Bay of Bengal by Sunday evening. This may move southwestwards by November 19.
Ministers Dindigul C. Sreenivasan (Forest), P. Thangamani (Electricity), S.P. Velumani (Municipal Administration), D. Jayakumar (Fisheries), and R.B. Udhayakumar (Revenue) have been sent to the districts to coordinate relief operations.
Even before the cyclone made landfall, Ministers M.C. Sampath (Industries), R. Kamaraj (Food), O.S. Manian (Textiles), C. Vijaya Baskar (Health), R. Doraikkannu (Agriculture) and M. Manikandan (Information Technology), who are natives of these districts, have been camping there.
Senior IPS officers Shakeel Akhtar, Thamaraikannan, Ravi and C. Sylendra Babu have been instructed by the Chief Minister to coordinate policing in Nagapattinam, Tiruvarur, Thanjavur districts and railway premises respectively.
The State Emergency Operations Centre in the Ezhilagam complex kept track of the developments all through the day with Commissioner of Revenue Administration K. Satyagopal and Disaster Management Commissioner Rajendra Ratnoo coordinating relief operations with various agencies in the affected districts.
The cyclone later entered Kerala as a depression.