Powerful cyclone makes landfall in Covid stricken India amid virus surge

The storm has already led to the suspension of some vaccination efforts and there is greater risk of virus transmission in crowded evacuation shelters.
Powerful cyclone makes landfall in Covid stricken India amid virus surge

Commuters wade through a waterlogged street during heavy rain in Mumbai, India, Monday, May 17, 2021. Picture: AP Photo/Rajanish Kakade

A powerful cyclone has made landfall on India’s western coast as authorities attempt to evacuate hundreds of thousands of people.

Cyclone Tauktae, which has already killed 12 people in parts of southern India, is expected to make landfall on Monday evening in Gujarat state with winds of up to 109mph, the India Meteorological Department said.

Forecasters warned of possible extensive damage from high winds, heavy rainfall and flooding in low-lying areas.

The massive storm comes as India is battling with a devastating coronavirus surge. The storm has already led to the suspension of some vaccination efforts and there is greater risk of virus transmission in crowded evacuation shelters.

A severe cyclone is roaring in the Arabian Sea off southwestern India with winds of up to 140 kph (87 mph), already causing heavy rains and flooding that have killed multiple people, officials said Sunday. Picture: NASA Worldview, Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS) via AP
A severe cyclone is roaring in the Arabian Sea off southwestern India with winds of up to 140 kph (87 mph), already causing heavy rains and flooding that have killed multiple people, officials said Sunday. Picture: NASA Worldview, Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS) via AP

Virus lockdown measures, meanwhile, could slow relief work after the storm, and damage from the storm could destroy roads and cut vital supply lines for vaccines and medical supplies needed for virus patients.

In Gujarat, vaccinations were suspended for two days and authorities worked to evacuate hundreds of thousands of people to temporary relief shelters.

The state’s chief minister, Vijay Rupani, asked officials to ensure that oxygen supplies for hospitals are not disrupted.

In Maharashtra, operations at Mumbai city’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport were suspended for five hours.

A fisherman waits for help as he tries to move a fishing boat to a safer ground on the Arabian Sea coast in Mumbai, India, Monday, May 17, 2021. Picture: AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool
A fisherman waits for help as he tries to move a fishing boat to a safer ground on the Arabian Sea coast in Mumbai, India, Monday, May 17, 2021. Picture: AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool

Fishing boats off the coast in both states returned to their harbours and thousands of rescue and relief teams, along with ships and aircraft, were deployed for recovery operations.

India’s western coast is no stranger to devastating cyclones, but changing climate patterns have caused them to become more intense, rather than more frequent.

In May 2020, nearly 100 people died after Cyclone Amphan, the most powerful storm to hit eastern India in more than a decade, ravaged the region and left millions without power.

More in this section

IE_logo_newsletters

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox