Cyclone Gaja rips through TN & Pondy

Cyclone Gaja that made landfall near Nagapattinam in the early hours of Friday ripped through many districts in Tamil Nadu, claiming 13 lives. Unconfirmed reports, however, put the toll at 30 in the storm-battered delta districts.

Almost all the deaths occurred in areas that were assessed as safe zones and not evacuated. Deaths were caused by uprooted trees falling on houses and wall collapses. The worst affected districts were Nagapattinam, Pudukottai, Tiruvarur, Thanjavur and Cuddalore. Karaikal and Puducherry were also hit.

Among the worst hit were the salt pans in Vedaranyam, the second-largest salt-producing pans in the state after Tuticorin. The salt yield harvested and stocked near the pans was blown away in the winds that touched 120 kmph.

While officials are unsure about the extent of damage caused by cyclone Gaja, salt manufacturers claimed that close to 2 lakh tonnes of salt had been destroyed. Power infrastructure in Nagapattinam, Tiruvarur, Thanjavur and Pudukottai districts and Puducherry was damaged. More than 12,000 electric poles were destroyed and 102 sub-stations damaged. Nagapattinam and Tiruvarur districts are in the dark. The electricity department said it will take at least two days to restore power in these districts.

The government has launched rescue, relief and rehabilitation measures in the affected regions. Chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswami expressed grief over the deaths and announced Rs.10 lakh as compensation to the families of those killed. PM Narendra Modi spoke to the CM, and later tweeted, “Assured all possible help from the Centre. I pray for the safety and well-being of the people of Tamil Nadu.”

No fisherman was stranded at sea as the fisheries ministry had taken measures to ensure the safety of fisherfolk and protect their boats and equipment.

At least 1,000 livestock have been saved from the cyclone in Nagapattinam, Tiruvarur, Thanjavur and Cuddalore districts.

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