Cyclone Gaja made landfall in Nagapattinam district of Tamil Nadu around 1.40 am on Friday, and is expected to move nearly westwards and weaken gradually into a cyclonic storm by 8.30 am, the India Meteorological Department said. The state has been put on high alert and more than 76,000 people have been evacuated, according to reports.
With Gaja's landfall, heavy rain lashed Nagapattinam, Thiruvarur, and Thanjavur, uprooting trees in several regions. Electricity supply was also disconnected Nagapattinam and in several other coastal regions, reported India Today.
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However, the Tamil Nadu government has put its machinery in full alert in vulnerable districts to face the effects of the natural calamity. Four teams each of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) personnel have been already deployed in Nagapattinam district, while two teams of the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) have been deployed in Cuddalore district.
The Indian Navy has also been put on alert for relief efforts. Two Indian Naval ships - Ranvir and Khanjar - are on standby to proceed to the most affected areas to undertake Humanitarian Aid Distress Relief (HADR), evacuation, and logistic support, including the provision of medical aid.
Around 29, 000 permanent cyclone shelters have been made and food is being provided to those who are residing in it. The government has also made 233 shelters in schools, colleges and marriage halls.
Holiday has been announced for schools and colleges in Nagai, Thiruvarur, Cuddalore, and Pudukkottai districts, reported Times of India. Ariyalur collector also announced a holiday for schools and colleges on Friday.
The Tamil Nadu government has announced helpline numbers 1070 (state-level) and 1077 (districts) for those who may need assistance.
Apart from Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, Andhra Pradesh is also bracing for the impact of the cyclone, which is likely to bring heavy downpour and strong winds to several parts of the region for the next couple of days.
With inputs from agencies