Gaja cyclone hits Tamil Nadu, leaves 11 dead

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

Chennai: A severe cyclonic storm Gaja battered the Tamil Nadu coast on Friday, leaving at least 13 people and several livestock dead and a trail of destruction in several districts.

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

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

Gaja had triggered heavy to very heavy rains across the state, however winds could be associated more with the damage done.

Chief Minister K. Palaniswami said in Salem, some 350 km from the state capital, that 13 persons had lost their lives in the cyclone. In a statement, the chief minister said people who suffered major injuries would be given a compensation of Rs 1 lakh each while those who sustained minor injuries will get Rs 25,000. As many as 81,948 people were evacuated from low lying areas and sheltered at over 471 relief centres, according to an Indian Express report.

Apart from fallen 12,000 power poles in seven districts, 102 power sub-stations in districts like Nagapattinam, Thanjavur, Thiruvarur were affected.

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

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

Traffic remains disrupted in most parts of Nagapattinam and Karaikal districts.

Isolated rains are likely over north Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, north Kerala and interiors of south Karnataka. Universities and colleges have also postponed their exams slated for Friday.

A holiday has been declared for educational institutions in Nagapattinam district.

The damage caused by Gaja, including to the fishing sector, was being assessed, he said.

Senior ministers, officers in the rank of IAS and IPS have been deputed by the chief minister to coordinate the relief operations in the affected areas.

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