Chennai:

The toll in cyclone Gaja has touched 45, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K Palaniswami said on Sunday and appealed to leaders of all political parties to take part in the relief activities. 

 

"Palaniswami said 1.7 lakh trees have been uprooted, 735 cattle died, 1.17 lakh houses damaged and 88,102 hectare agricultural land has been affected in coastal districts. 

 

He said the relief operations were going on a war footing in the districts affected by the cyclonic storm and state ministers have been deployed in Nagapattinam, Thanjavur, Tiruvarur, and Pudukottai to monitor it. 

 

The state government is collecting details about areas which have been badly affected by the cyclone, Palaniswami told reporters here. 

 

The Tamil Nadu government has announced a solatium of Rs 10 lakh to family of each of the deceased from the Chief Minister's Public Relief Fund (CMPRF). Those with severe injuries would be provided with Rs one lakh each while those whose injuries are not grievous in nature would get Rs 25,000 compensation. 

 

The cyclonic storm crossed Tamil Nadu's coast between Nagapattinam and nearby Vedaranyam early hours Friday, bringing in heavy rains in the coastal regions, according to a weather bulletin.Winds gusting upto 120 kmph uprooted trees, snapped cyclone-related and blew off roofing-sheets.

 

Earlier, according to officials, twenty men and 11 women died and 28 head of cattle perished in cyclone related incidents despite authorities evacuating as many as 81,948 people to 471 relief centres in Cuddalore, Nagapattinam, Ramanathapuram, Thanjavur, Pudukottai and Tiruvarur districts.

 

Expressing grief over the deaths, Chief Minister K Palaniswami sanctioned a solatium of Rs 1 million to the kin of those who died and Rs 25,000-Rs 100,000 for the injured.The chief minister said he has ordered officials to immediately determine the extent of loss and damage in respect of crops, fishing boats, houses, and cattle due to the cyclone.

 

"I have ordered relief efforts on a war-footing in the affected districts," he said, adding minsters were carrying out work in districts assigned to them.

 

Speaking to reporters at Salem, about 350 kilometres from here, Palaniswami said that 20 men, 11 women, and 2 children died due to the cyclone that crossed the Tamil Nadu coast between Nagapattinam and Vedaranyam districts between 12.30 a.m. and 2.30 a.m. on Friday.

 

The cyclone left a trail of destruction in Nagapattinam, Thanjavur, Thiruvarur, Cuddalore, Pudukkottai and Ramanathapuram districts, damaging houses, huts and crops.

 

Palaniswami said about 70 livestock and several goats, poultry and deer have also died due to the cyclone.

 

Some 127,000 trees were uprooted by the strong cyclonic winds that touched a maximum speed of about 120 kmph, the Chief Minister added.

 

He said supplies of water, milk and food were being distributed to the people affected by the calamity

 

About 177,500 people are staying in 351 relief camps in the cyclone-affected areas.

 

The Chief Minister said about 30,000 electricity poles were broken, and 105 power sub-stations affected. About 10,000 personnel have been sent to the cyclone-affected coastal districts to repair the installations.

 

The storm caused heavy damage to the 16th century Shrine Basilica at Velankanni in Nagapattinam district.Due to gusty winds, the rood cross on top of the church broke and fell, Church authorities said.

 

The church is built in accordance with Gothic architecture.Authorities said the 75-ft tall stone statue of Jesus erected in front of the 'Morning Star Church' in the town, sustained structural damage.

 

According to church officials, the hands of the statue have suffered damage. The roof of the Museum of Offerings in the town has also been damaged.

Besides loss of lives, 1471 huts were partially damaged and 216 fully destroyed. A total of 4987 trees got uprooted in these districts.

 

Farmers' leader P R Pandian told PTI lakhs of coconut trees, plantain and acres of paddy crop have been seriously affected due to the gusty winds."

 

He demanded adequate compensation for the farmers.

 

State owned Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation's field assets including 13,025 electricity poles, 13 local distribution transformers, and 1,000 cables were damaged in rain-related incidents.

 

The heavy rain in districts, including Tiruvarur and Thanjavur and widespread rain in other parts, has come as a boon to the state which was staring at a rainfall deficit during the monsoon season which commenced October 1.

 

"Now the deficit stands at 23 per cent. The rainfall ranged between the lowest of 1 cm in several towns to the highest of 17 cm in Tiruvarur district followed by 16 cm in Thanjavur," a Met official said.