Cyclone Gaja enters TN coast; leaves 11 dead

Chennai, Nov 16 (IANS) Severe cyclonic storm Gaja crossed the Tamil Nadu coast on Friday, felling several trees, damaging thatched huts and hoardings, according to the IMD.

In its weather bulletin, the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) said Gaja crossed by 12.30 a.m. and 2.30 a.m. between Nagapattinam and Vedaranyam with a wind speed of about 110 kmph gusting up to 120 kmph.

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The high speed wind has damaged the roof sheets of Nagapattinam railway station, leaving at least 11 people dead and causing widespread destruction.

Chief Minister K. Palaniswami said in Salem, some 350 km from here, that 11 persons had lost their lives due to the cyclone.

He said a sum of Rs 10 lakh would be paid to each family of the dead. For those severely injured, a sum of Rs 100,000 would be paid and those who suffered minor injuries would get Rs 25,000.

About 82,000 people living in low-lying areas were sent to 471 relief centres, the Chief Minister said, adding that the preventive measures helped keep the death toll low.

Speaking to the media, R.B. Udhyakumar, Minister for Revenue and Disaster Management, said the extend to damages will be known once the wind speed gets reduced.

He said after the rains preventive measures against breakout of disease will be taken. The fallen trees are being removed at the earliest, Udhayakumar added.

Road traffic in the cyclone affected Nagapattinam due to fallen trees.

The government had disconnected power supply on Thursday night as precautionary measure. Owing to the cyclone several power poles have been damaged.

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.

Over 63,000 people have been evacuated from low lying areas and housed in 289 relief centres in Cuddalore, Nagapattinam, Ramanathapuram, Thanjavur, Pudukottai and Thiruvarur on Thursday itself.

According to the IMD, scattered heavy rains is likely to occur over south Tamil Nadu and south Kerala.

Isolated rain is likely to occur over north Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, north Kerala and interiors of south Karnataka.

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

Similarly, gale wind speed reaching 60-80 kmph likely in the remaining parts of Tamil Nadu and Palk Strait during next six hours while strong winds with a speed of 30-40 kmph gusting at 50 kmph is very likely over interior Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Gulf of Mannar, Comorian area and Kerala coast, the IMD said.