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Cyclone Tauktae makes landfall in India packing 115 mph winds

By Don Jacobson
Cyclone Tauktae makes landfall in India packing 115 mph winds
A car damaged by a falling tree is seen on a roadside in western India Monday as Cyclone Tauktae prepared to make landfall with winds reaching 115 mph. Photo by EPA-EFE/STR

May 17 (UPI) -- Cyclone Tauktae made landfall along the coast of western India late Monday as an "extremely severe cyclonic storm" with sustained winds of 115 mph, officials said.

The India Meteorological Department reported the deadly cyclone made landfall near Diu, India, in the western state of Gujarat, around 10 p.m. local time, and thereafter weakened slightly to a "very severe cyclone" with winds around 100 mph.

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With winds at 115 mph, Tauktae would be rated a Category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale used to rank storms that form in the Atlantic and East Pacific basins.

The center of the cyclone was moving slowly across India's Saurashtra coastal belt east of Diu as of early Tuesday morning, the meteorologists said.

More than 1.5 million people were evacuated in Gujarat state as the storm approached, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani said during a press briefing Monday, encompassing more than 600 villages in 17 districts lying within the cyclone's path.

The storm forced the cancellation of 55 flights at Mumbai's Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport after officials suspended all services earlier in the day. Flights were eventually resumed after an 11-hour delay.

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At least 12 deaths have been blamed on the cyclone in India's western coastal states, with eight coming in Karnataka, according to the Times of India. Officials say another two dozen people remain missing after Tauktae brushed past the tourist haven of Goa.

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