Gaja cyclone hits Tamil Nadu, leaves 11 dead

Homes damaged in Pudhukottai due to Cyclone Gaja. Image Mydeen Abdul Kadar/101Reporters

Homes damaged in Pudhukottai due to Cyclone Gaja. Image Mydeen Abdul Kadar/101Reporters

Tens of thousands of people were evacuated on Friday as Cyclone Gaja crossed the Tamil Nadu coast between Nagapattinam and nearby Vedaranniyam uprooting trees and destroying houses in its path. The severe cyclonic storm that made a midnight landfall near Vedaranyam in Nagapattinam district left a trail of destruction over seven hours with wind speeds as high as 110 kmph.

The storm heavily damaged a 16th century Roman Catholic Shrine Basilica at Velankanni, a small town in Nagapattinam district, Press Trust of India said.

Heavy rains damaged rice fields and roads, and strong winds uprooted banana and papaya trees along the coastline.

In some places like Pudukottai walls of houses collapsed due to rains. The cyclone damaged some 12,000 power poles.

Electricity supply was disconnected in Nagapattinam and in several other coastal regions in view of the cyclone's landfall.

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

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He said the families of the deceased will be provided a solatium of Rs 10 lakh each from the Chief Minister's Public Relief Fund (CMPRF). 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 have been sent to 471 relief centres, the Chief Minister said, adding the preventive measures helped keep the death toll low.

In span of 24 hours from 8:30 am on Thursday, Cuddalore recorded 87 mm of rain, followed by Karaikal at 64 mm, Parangipettai 62 mm, Kodaikanal 61 mm, Kanyakumari 51 mm, Thanjavur 46 mm, Pamban 47 mm, Trichy 42 mm, and Tuticorin 41 mm.

According to officials, 28 livestocks were killed in cyclone.

Revenue Minister R B Udaya Kumar told reporters that the government has tackled the cyclone situation successfully.

Piles of felled trees blocked traffic in parts of Nagapattinam and Vedaranyum. Universities and colleges have also postponed their exams slated for Friday. All educational institutions including schools will remain shut in Nagapattinam today.

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