A severe cyclonic storm Gaja battered the Tamil Nadu coast on Friday, leaving at least 20 people and several livestock dead and a trail of destruction in several districts.
Authorities said the cyclone crossed the coast between Nagapattinam and Vedaranyam districts between 12.30 a.m. and 2.30 a.m. with wind speeds of about 110-120 kmph, bringing the lives to a grinding halt.
Speaking to reporters at Salem,Chief Minister K Palaniswami said relief work will be taken up on a war-footing and that the work was already underway.
"The government has received information that so far 13 persons have died," he said without divulging further information.
He said the families of the deceased will be provided a solatium of Rs 10 lakh each from the Chief Minister's Public Relief Fund (CMPRF).
Those with severe injuries will be provided with Rs one lakh each while people who had sustained simple injuries will get Rs 25,000 as relief, he added.
The damage caused by Gaja, including to the fishing sector, was being assessed, he said.
So powerful were the gales that the roof-sheets of the Nagapattinam railway station were damaged. Thatched and tiled roofs of several houses were also damaged in the strong cyclonic winds.
A ship was ground in Karaikal Port in Puducherry.
Traffic on the highways were affected owing to fallen trees while communication links in Vedaranyam were also affected.
Traffic out of hill station Kodaikanal was affected due to fallen trees.
In some places like Pudukottai walls of houses collapsed due to rains.
Apart from fallen 12,000 power poles in seven districts, 102 power sub-stations in districts like Nagapattinam, Thanjavur, Thiruvarur were affected.
According to the state power utility, about 500 km of power supply lines were affected by Gaja. Officials said it would take at least two days to restore power supply in full in districts like Nagapattinam and Thiruvarur.
Relief centres were set up in Cuddalore, Nagapattinam, Ramanathapuram, Thanjavur, Pudukottai and Thiruvarur on Thursday itself.
According to officials, 28 livestocks were killed in cyclone.
Owing to strong winds an Indigo Airlines Chennai-Trichy flight was not able to land in Trichy and was sent back.
R.B. Udhyakumar, Minister for Revenue and Disaster Management, said all the trees felled by the cyclone were being removed.
Piles of felled trees blocked traffic in parts of Nagapattinam and Vedaranyum.
Several universities in Tamil Nadu have postponed their exams slated for Friday. Schools remained closed on Friday in Nagapattinam, Cuddalore, Thanjavur, Pudukottai, Thiruvarur and several other districts in Tamil Nadu and in Puducherry, including Karaikal.
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has forecast scattered heavy to very heavy rain over Tiruchirapalli, Namakkal, Dindigul, Madurai, Theni, Karur, Coimbatore, Tiruppur, Nilgiris and Virudhunagar districts of Tamil Nadu.
According to Chief Minister Palaniswami, the Fisheries Department will estimate the damage to the fishing boats before paying compensation to the fishermen.
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh spoke to Chief Minister Palaniswami and enquired about the cyclone damage.
Watch: Destruction caused by Cyclone Gaja
( With inputs from agencies )