- "The worst is over..." NDRF chief SN Pradhan said
- Amit Shah spoke to the chief ministers of affected states
- Tauktae has been regarded as the most powerful storm in the region
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At 2.30 pm Tauktae, which has been downgraded from an 'extremely severe' cyclonic storm to 'very severe', was over Gujarat's Saurashtra, 105 km south-southwest of Ahmedabad. It is moving north-northeast with winds of 75-85 km per hour at its centre and is expected to weaken into a 'depression' in the next six hours.
At least three people were killed, according to news agency ANI, as the storm slammed into Gujarat with gale force winds that sent waves crashing into the shore. 16,500 houses were destroyed, 1,000 electricity poles broken and 40,000 trees uprooted. 159 roads were damaged and power supply to 2,437 villages snapped.
Among those to have died was a woman in Patan town, who was killed by a falling electricity pole. In Bhavnagar's Badeli village a woman died after the wall of her house collapsed. Over two lakh people were evacuated in advance, but tens of thousands more were forced to flee from coastal villages to escape Tauktae's fury.
Chief Minister Vijay Rupani said 1,000 Covid hospitals - Gujarat has around one lakh active cases - 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 to be used for emergencies, and that 744 doctors and 160 'ICU on wheels' had been deployed.
"The worst is over..." NDRF chief SN Pradhan was quoted by ANI, adding that 44 disaster response teams were working with local authorities in 20 districts to provide aid. "... very important to clear vital arteries of communication... have sent troops who have been fully vaccinated (against COVID-19)," he said.
Mumbai (and Maharashtra) may have escaped the worst but the city was lashed with 115 km per hour winds, forcing authorities to shut the airport and the iconic Bandra-Worli sea link for hours. Waterlogging was reported and vehicular movement slowed to a crawl. Visuals from the iconic Gateway of India showed waves crashing into the culverts
The Indian Navy has rescued 177 people from barges that went adrift in the Arabian Sea as Tauktae blew past Mumbai. Three warships - INS Kolkata, INS Kochi and INS Talwar - were deployed after distress calls were received from two barges that were carrying 410 people between them. Rescue efforts are ongoing.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah spoke to the chief ministers of affected states - Gujarat, Maharashtra and Rajasthan - and administrators of the Union Territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli - to review the situation and offer help from the centre.
Eight people died in Karnataka as Tauktae brushed past the southern state 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.
Tauktae - regarded as the most powerful storm in the region in nearly three decades - struck as India battles a devastating second wave of coronavirus infections and deaths. It is also one of an increasing number of storms in the Arabian Sea area - a worrying phenomenon scientists link to rising water temperatures because of global warming.
With input from AFP, Reuters, ANI, PTI