Cyclone Gaja claims 11 lives in Tamil Nadu, says K Palaniswami; Rajnath Singh assures Central assistance

Severe cyclonic storm Gaja, which crossed the Tamil Nadu coast early Friday, has claimed 11 lives, Chief Minister K Palaniswami said.

Authorities said the cyclone crossed the coast between Nagapattinam and Vedaranyam districts between 12.30 am and 2.30 am with wind speeds of about 110-120 kmph. So powerful were the gales that the roof sheets of the Nagapattinam railway station were damaged, reported IANS.

File image of K Palaniswami. Twitter/@CMOTamilNadu

File image of K Palaniswami. Twitter/@CMOTamilNadu

Speaking to reporters at Salem, Palaniswami said relief work will be taken up on a war-footing and that the work was already underway.

"The government has received information that so far 11 persons have died," he said without divulging further information.

He said the families of the deceased will be provided with a solatium of Rs 10 lakh each from the Chief Minister's Public Relief Fund (CMPRF). Those with severe injuries will be provided with Rs 1 lakh each while people who had sustained simple injuries will get Rs 25,000 as a relief, he added.

The damage caused by Gaja, including to the fishing sector, was being assessed, he said. According to the chief minister, the Fisheries Department will estimate the damage to the fishing boats before paying compensation to the fishermen.

Union home minister Rajnath Singh on Friday spoke to Palaniswami over the current situation in the state after it was hit by the cyclone, ANI reported. Singh tweeted, "Spoke to CM EK Palaniswami regarding the situation in the cyclone-affected areas of Tamil Nadu. Assured all possible assistance from the Centre in mitigating the situation arising due to cyclone. Asked the Home Secretary to monitor the situation and provide all help to the state administration."

Over 80,000 people were evacuated from low-lying areas as severe cyclonic storm Gaja crossed the coast between Nagapattinam and nearby Vedaranyam early Friday, bringing with it heavy rains in the coastal regions.

Gusty winds due to the cyclonic storm resulted in hundreds of trees and electricity poles being uprooted in Nagapattinam and Karaikal districts. Other districts like Cuddalore and Puthukottai also bore the brunt of the cyclone. RB Udhyakumar, Minister for Revenue and Disaster Management, said all the trees felled by the cyclone were being removed.

Relief centres were set up in Cuddalore, Nagapattinam, Ramanathapuram, Thanjavur, Pudukottai and Thiruvarur on Thursday itself.

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has forecast rains till Friday evening.

The government snapped power supply on Thursday night as a precaution. The cyclone damaged some 12,000 power poles.

Several universities in Tamil Nadu have postponed their exams slated for Friday.

Similarly, schools will remain closed on Friday in Nagapattinam, Cuddalore, Thanjavur, Pudukottai, Thiruvarur and several other districts in Tamil Nadu and in Puducherry including Karaikal.

Isolated rains are likely over north Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, north Kerala and interiors of south Karnataka.

Gale wind speed reaching 100-110 kmph gusting to 120 kmph is very likely in central parts of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry coasts during the next six hours.

Powerful winds are also likely in the remaining parts of Tamil Nadu and the Palk Strait, which divides Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka.

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Updated Date: Nov 16, 2018 14:57:38 IST

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