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With cyclone Tauktae intensifying, there has been major destruction to houses and other public properties in Kerala due to heavy rains and winds.

In Alappuzha, many trees and electric poles were uprooted amid the heavy winds, with power supply disrupted in many parts of the district. Several low-lying areas, including Kuttanad, have been inundated.

In Kasargod, a two-storied house collapsed into the sea, while in Ernakulam and Thrissur districts, many houses got submerged due to high tide.

But so far, no major accident, causing casualties has been reported. People from the affected areas have been shifted to nearby relief camps by the administration.

Meanwhile, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said the deep depression over the Arabian Sea has intensified into cyclonic storm Tauktae and is likely to cross the Gujarat coast between Porbandar and Naliya around May 18. It said Tauktae will be a very severe cyclonic storm from May 16-18.

In a bulletin released at 1:45 PM, the IMD said, “It (Tauktae) is very likely to intensify further into a severe cyclonic storm during the next six hours and into a very severe cyclonic storm during the subsequent 12 hours. It is very likely to move north-northwestwards and cross the Gujarat coast between Porbandar and Naliya around 18th May afternoon/evening.”

Both the Centre and states have been gearing up to deal with the cyclone that has been building up over the Arabian Sea for days now.

The National Disaster Response Force has increased from 53 to 100 the number of teams earmarked to undertake relief and rescue measures in the aftermath of the cyclone. The Central Water Commission has also issued a moderate to high risk alert over watersheds in central and northern parts of Kerala, adjoining south coastal and south interior Karnataka.

The government machinery in Goa has put in place necessary measures to tackle the situation in view of the warning about Cyclone Tauktae. According to the IMD, Konkan and Goa are expected to receive heavy to very heavy rainfall on May 15 and 16. The Goa Fire and Emergency Services said it has kept its personnel ready to tackle the situation.

Earlier in the day, the IMD said cyclone Tauktae, which is over east central and adjoining southeast Arabian Sea, will intensify into ‘Severe Cyclonic Storm’.

The Cyclonic Storm “Tauktae” (pronounced as Tau’Te) over east central and adjoining southeast the Arabian Sea moved north-northwestwards with a speed of about 11 kmph during past 06 hours and lay centred at 0830 hours IST. On the morning of May 18, the cyclone will touch the Gujarat coast, IMD officials said.

“Deep Depression intensified into a Cyclonic Storm “Tauktae” (pronounced as Tau’Te) over Lakshadweep area and adjoining southeast & east central Arabian Sea, Cyclone watch for south Gujarat & Diu coasts,” IMD tweeted.

As the western coast gears for the cyclone to make landfall, the Indian Navy has assured support to the state administrations. “Indian Navy ships, aircraft, helicopters, diving and disaster relief teams standby…for rendering full support to State administrations as Cyclonic Storm Tauktae approaches Western Coast of India,” a tweet by the Navy spokesperson read.

On Friday, IMD officials said that this cyclonic activity would bring rain or thunderstorms in the coastal belt between May 16 and 18, with some of the places in the region receiving heavy to extremely heavy rainfall on Monday and Tuesday.

In view of this prediction, all ports in Gujarat have been asked to hoist a signal to warn fishermen against venturing into the sea. “As of now, there is no prediction whether it will make a landfall on the Gujarat coast, and a clear picture would emerge only by tomorrow,” said Manorama Mohanty, assistant director of the Meteorological Centre in Ahmedabad told PTI.

However, the Gujarat government has alerted the collectors of all the coastal districts to take necessary steps for the safety of people. While local authorities were already instructed to alert the fishermen and bring them back to coast if they are in the sea, those who are on the coast are barred from venturing into the sea as a precautionary measure till the situation improves.

To alert the seafarers about the approaching cyclone, all the ports in Gujarat have been asked to hoist ‘Distant Cautionary Signal Number 2’, Mohanty said. Meanwhile, the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has earmarked 53 teams to tackle possible after-effects of the cyclone.

Similar teams are being deployed in the coastal regions of Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Maharashtra, a top NDRF official has earlier said.

(With PTI inputs)

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