Cyclone Tauktae wreaks havoc on Maha coast, but no casualties

Mumbai, May 16 (IANS) The much-feared Cyclone Tauktae finally arrived to lash the Maharashtra coast on Sunday, uprooting scores of trees, and light-poles and causing other minor damage, but there were no reports of any casualties, officials said.
After Goa, the cyclone targeted the Sindhudurg and Ratnagiri districts as it moved towards Raigad, Mumbai, Thane and Palghar districts while whirling towards the Gujarat south coast where it is expected to make a landfall on early Tuesday, according to the IMD.
Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray held a series of meetings with top officials to monitor the cyclone situation and also briefed Union Home Minister Amit Shah of the state’s preparedness.
“All the districts in the entire coastal belt have been put on a high alert,” Thackeray informed Shah.
Early on Monday, the cyclone is likely to pass by the Raigad-Mumbai coasts and then move onto Thane-Palghar – what is collectively known as Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR).
“Many trees were uprooted in the strong winds that lashed Sindhudurg-Ratnagiri districts There are reports of widespread damage to crops and plantations of mango, cashewnuts, coconuts, kokam, and other produce in the region. We have directed the local administration to conduct ‘panchnama’ immediately,” Higher & Technical Education Minister Uday Samant said from his camp in Konkan.
Relief & Rehabilitation Minister Vijay Wadettiwar said that the Konkan coast has been prepared for the onslaught of Cyclone Taukte and he was also keeping tabs on the unfolding situation there.
“CM Thackeray has taken stock of the matter and I have apprised him about the relief works undertaken. We are setting up large shelters for the people in these areas where they can be shifted if required,” he said.
In Mumbai, the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has cancelled the scheduled 3-day vaccination drive starting Monday and the schedule has now been pushed ahead by a day, said Municipal Commissioner I. S. Chahal.
In a precautionary move, the Indian Coast Guard ensured the safe return of around 5,600 boats which had gone for fishing in the Arabian Seas besides re-routing 335 merchant ships in the vicinity of the cyclone path.
It said that the operations started from May 11 when the first warning of the impending cyclone was received with preventive and response measures initiated on the entire west coast including Lakshadweep Isles, with multiple agencies working in coordination.
Western Railway General Manager Alok Kansal conducted video-conference with the top officials of the various divisions on the Maharashtra-Gujarat region to take stock of the preparedness for the natural calamity.
He gave detailed instructions on train movements, communication including satellite phones, wireless and drones, logistics, speed restrictions, alternative power arrangements, fuel, tree-cutting equipment, JCBs, utility vehicles, cancellations, part-cancellations of various services, etc. as a safety-cum-precautionar ymeasure.
Kansal asked the officials to follow the guidelines of the Disaster Management Manuals of the Railways, the NDMA and state agencies, said WR spokesperson Sumit Thakur.
Teams of the NDRF, SDRF, Maharashtra Police, Fire Brigade, Coast Guard, Indian Navy and other agencies are on high alert in the entire coastal belt to tackle any eventuality.
In Karnataka, Six persons died in separate incidents across coastal and central Karnataka due to heavy rains and gusty winds triggered by Cyclone Tauktae over the last 24 hours, an official said on Sunday.
In Goa, stormy winds and heavy rains caused by Cyclone Tauktae claimed two lives and uprooted more than 1,000 trees, disrupting normal life and road traffic and causing power outage in most parts of the coastal state on Sunday.

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