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Amidst pandemic, Cyclone Tauktae batters Gujarat coast

The landfall process of the eye of extremely severe cyclonic storm Tauktae, which had hit Gujarat coast in Saurashtra between Diu and Una around 9 pm, ended around 12 am on Wednesday, the India Meteorological Department said. 
 
At least six people were killed and several injured in Maharashtra as Cyclone Tauktae brushed past the state while eight people died in cyclone-affected coastal Karnataka. The state government had shifted over two lakh people in Gujarat to safer locations before the cyclone.
 
Meanwhile, flight operations at Mumbai's Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport, halted for hours due to the cyclone, have been resumed. The cyclone triggered strong winds with the highest-ever speed of 114 kilometres per hour in Mumbai.
 
In a relief to the people, the IMD, in its tweet after midnight, also announced that Cyclone Tauktae has weakened into a “very severe cyclonic storm” from the “extremely severe cyclonic storm”. The entire eye of the cyclone has now crossed the coast and lies over land. The rear sector of the eye is now entering the land” the IMD tweeted.
 
The place above which the eye of a cyclone crosses is designated as the place of landfall. The process of landfall in Gujarat started on Monday around 9 pm with the entry of the “forward sector of the eye of the cyclone Tauktae” into the land near the Union Territory of Daman and Diu with a wind speed of around 150 to 175 kilometers per hour, IMD officials in Gujarat said.
 
Additionally, major ports and airports have been shut in Gujarat as the most powerful cyclone in more than two decades roared up the west coast. The cyclone has left a trail of destruction as it brushed past the coastal states of Kerala, Karnataka, Goa and Maharashtra, the authorities said.
 
Navy brought in to handle rescue ops 
 
Meanwhile, the Indian Navy has been taking part in rescue operations to save the people on both of the commercial barges, which are off the coast of Mumbai, the capital of Maharashtra. There were 400 people on board in total, but 38 have been rescued, the navy said in a Saturday evening update.
 
It said it was responding to two separate requests for help in extremely challenging conditions: one from a barge adrift near an oil field about 170km from the coast, and a second from another vessel about 14km from the coast. 
 
Teams from the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) have been deployed in Gujarat and Maharashtra. Houses were destroyed and electricity was disrupted across several districts in these states.

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