More than 10,500 people have been evacuated from Nagapattinam district
- Over 81,000 people have been evacuated across coastal Tamil Nadu
- Cyclone Gaja made landfall today with wind gusting up to 120 kmph
- Severe cyclonic storm is likely to move nearly westwards
Thirteen people were killed as cyclone Gaja made landfall in Tamil Nadu this morning, with winds gusting up to 120 kmph, Chief Minister K Palaniswami said. Over 81,000 people have been evacuated across coastal Tamil Nadu. The cyclonic storm crossed the Tamil Nadu coast between Nagapattinam, nearly 300 km from state capital Chennai, and Vedaranniyam. People were evacuated from low-lying areas and sheltered at over 300 relief centres in six districts including Nagapattinam, Pudukottai, Ramanathapuram and Tiruvarur, reported news agency PTI. No major damage to electricity infrastructure was reported in Cuddalore.
Here are the latest developments on Cyclone Gaja:
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As the cyclone hit land, the coastal towns including Cuddalore, Nagapattinam, Thondi and Pamban in Tamil Nadu and Karaikkal in Puducherry received moderate rainfall.
The severe cyclonic storm is very likely to move nearly westwards and weaken gradually into a cyclonic storm during the next six hours, the weather office said.
During the cyclone's landfall, rain hit Nagapattinam, Tiruvarur, and Thanjavur, uprooting trees in several regions, the details of which are expected later in the day.
Senior bureaucrats have been stationed in these coastal districts, officials have said. Power supply was disconnected in Nagapattinam and in several other coastal regions in view of the cyclone's landfall.
Four teams each from the National Disaster Relief Force and its counterpart in the state are working in Nagapattinam. 9,000 first responders are also working to rescue people.
The district administration is also working with cellphone operators to ensure disruption-free mobile services as the cyclone makes landfall.
Two naval ships equipped with divers, helicopters and inflatable boats were also docked to move to affected areas to provide relief and humanitarian aid, according to reports.
The Southern Railway cancelled four trains, including three from Chennai to Nagapattinam, Tiruvarur and Thanjavur districts. Four express trains bound for southern districts were diverted. Trains bound for Rameswaram had been stopped at Manamadurai.
The cyclone, which moved towards Tamil Nadu from southwest Bay of Bengal, was expected to cross the state's coastline between Pamban and Cuddalore late on Thursday evening. However, it moved slowly causing the delay.
Schools and colleges will remain shut on Friday and offices and business establishments were asked to relieve employees early. The Anna University has postponed its exams.