Nagapattinam/Chennai: Around 16 people have been reported dead and over 80,000 people were evacuated from low-lying areas as severe cyclonic storm 'Gaja' crossed Tamil Nadu's coast between Nagapattinam and nearby Vedaranyam early Friday, bringing with in heavy rains in coastal regions.
Gusty winds due to the cyclonic storm resulted in hundreds of trees and electricity poles being uprooted in Nagapattinam and Karaikal districts.
Around 16 people died due to the cyclone, including four who died in a house collapse in Pudukottai.
As the cyclone's landfall began, coastal towns including Cuddalore, Nagapattinam, Thondi and Pamban in Tamil Nadu and Karaikkal and Puducherry received rainfall ranging between 3 cm and 8 cm.
Cuddalore received 8 cm, Nagapattinam 5 cm and neighbouring Puducherry and Karaikkal 5 cm each up to 5.30 am Friday, according to a MeT official in Chennai.
According to the Tamil Nadu State Disaster Management Authority, as many as 81,948 people were evacuated from low-lying areas and sheltered in 471 relief centres in six districts-Cuddalore, Nagapattinam, Pudukottai, Thanjavur, Ramanathapuram and Tiruvarur.
Power supply has been suspended since Thursday evening.
Traffic remains disrupted in most parts of Nagapattinam and Karaikal districts.
A holiday has been declared for educational institutions in Nagapattinam district.
An India Meteorological Department (IMD) bulletin said, "Severe cyclonic storm 'Gaja' crossed Tamil Nadu and Puducherry coast between Nagapattinam and Vedaranniyam ...with wind speed of 100-110 kmph gusting up to 120 kmph, early Friday."
Though the centre of the cyclone entered land early Friday, it took about two hours more for the rear sector of eye wall to enter the land region.
"Entire eye wall region lies over land. Maximum wind speed was reported at Adiramapattinam 117 kmph followed by Nagapattinam 100 kmph and Karaikkal 83 kmph," the latest bulletin said.
The severe cyclonic storm is very likely to move nearly westwards and weaken gradually into a cyclonic storm later Friday.
Due to heavy wind during the cyclone's landfall, trees, high mast lamps and some power poles in locations including Vedaranyam, Mannargudi, Irulneeki in Tiruvarur district got uprooted.
Uprooted trees have fallen on the roads which are being removed by civic workers.
Electricity supply was disconnected here and in several other coastal regions in view of the cyclone's landfall, officials said.
Revenue Minister R B Udaya Kumar told reporters that the government has tackled the cyclone situation successfully.
"This was a challenging task...we are confident that we have faced it safely 100 per cent" he said, adding all post-cyclone tasks like cleaning up storm affected areas has begun.
The government has got inputs of damage to houses and other properties and the extent of damage will be evaluated, he said.
Nagapattinam district Collector C Sureshkumar said PWD and TNEB officials are working on removing the uprooted trees and to restore traffic and electricity supply.
He also said more than 15,000 electric poles have been kept ready and all the damaged electric poles will be replaced on a war-footing.
The Collector further said the district administration had commenced the process of assessing the damage due to the cyclone.
Four teams each of National Disaster Response Force personnel have been already deployed in Nagapattinam district while two teams of the state disaster response force are in Cuddalore district, officials had said Thursday.
Karaikal Collector R Kesavan said over 6,000 people from 11 coastal hamlets in the district were staying in relief camps in the district.
They were being provided with drinking water and food, he added.
Heavy rains and strong winds lashed neighbouring Puducherry also. District Collector Vijay Abhijit Choudhury told PTI that a 70-year old woman in Vanrapet village in the town limits sustained head injuries when the wall of the neighbouring house collapse last night under the impact of the rain.
The collector said reports of trees being uprooted under the impact of the cyclonic storm were received from different areas.
The government had opened 190 relief centres.
All schools and colleges including private institutions remained closed on Friday for the second day.
Chief Minister V Narayanasamy reviewed the situation.