Severe cyclone Tauktae hits west coast of India
A severe cyclonic storm has made landfall on India’s west coast, home to major refineries and ports, causing heavy rains and high winds at a time when the country is already grappling with the worst COVID-19 outbreak in the world.
Cyclone Tauktae, the equivalent of a Category 3 hurricane, hit the state of western Gujarat in India late Monday, with a wind speed of up to 190 kilometers (118 miles) per hour, according to the Indian Meteorological Department. The landing process will be completed in three hours, the national meteorologist said in a statement.
Heavy showers in some areas, including the financial hub of Mumbai, will continue for the next 12 hours, while sea waves up to 4 meters above normal tides are likely to inundate some coastal locations, added the meteorological office.
Authorities have taken several preventive measures, including evacuating people and suspending fishing operations, to minimize the impact of the cyclone in the country, which is currently the global epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic. Hospitals and crematoriums in India are overwhelmed by the world’s fastest epidemic. Any disruption from the cyclone could exacerbate already existing shortages of medical supplies, from oxygen cylinders to vaccines.
Mumbai, the capital of the neighboring state of Maharashtra which escaped the worst of the storm, on Monday canceled coronavirus vaccinations at public centers. More than 600 patients have been moved from so-called jumbo facilities – makeshift hospitals to deal with the spike in infections – to public hospitals. The city’s international airport was closed for most of the day.
Nearly two dozen ports on the west coast of Goa in Gujarat have been put on alert, according to a tweet from the Ministry of Navigation and Ports. The Gujarat Maritime Council has asked port authorities to suspend loading and unloading operations and to divert all ships, including liquefied natural gas ships and tankers, to the high seas, according to a government official of the State in charge of port operations.
More than 6,500 fishing boats and trawlers at sea were brought back to safety by the Indian Coast Guard who deployed ships, planes and rescue teams along India’s west coast. The Indian Air Force has deployed its fleet of heavy lift aircraft to transport rescue teams and supplies from various parts of India to the West Coast.
Dozens of National Disaster Response Force teams have been deployed to several states, including Gujarat, Maharashtra, Kerala and Karnataka.
–With help from Anirban Nag, Sudhi Ranjan Sen, Anurag Kotoky, Jeanette Rodrigues, Faseeh Mangi and Karthikeyan Sundaram.
Photograph: A policeman helps a public transport driver cross a flooded street due to heavy rains caused by Cyclone Tauktae in Mumbai, India. Photo credit: Ashish Vaishnav / SOPA Images / LightRocket / Getty Images.
Copyright 2021 Bloomberg.