Four dead as powerful cyclone heads for India

AFP
Ahmedabad, India Published: May 16, 2021, 05:35 PM(IST)

This handout photo released on May 16, 2021 shows National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) personnel clearing fallen trees from a road following severe cyclonic storm 'Tauktae' at Margao in Goa. Photograph:( AFP )

Story highlights

It is expected to make land in coastal Gujarat as early as Monday night, bringing wind speeds of around 150-160 kilometres per hour

At least four people have died in torrential rain and winds as virus-hit India braces for a powerful cyclone, officials said Sunday, with tens of thousands set to be evacuated from their homes.

Cyclone Tauktae, India's first major tropical storm this season, is moving northwards in parallel with the country's western coast, bringing heavy rains, thunderstorms and strong winds to several states, the meteorological department said. 

Also read | Coast guard issues cyclone warning to fishermen in south Tamil Nadu, Arabian Sea coast

It is expected to make land in coastal Gujarat as early as Monday night, bringing wind speeds of around 150-160 kilometres per hour (93-99 miles per hour), the weather bureau added.

Four people lost their lives on Saturday as torrential rain and winds battered Karnataka state, the disaster management authority said Sunday.

Several towns and villages were flooded and properties damaged, officials added. 

Two others were reported dead and 23 fishermen were feared missing in the neighbouring state of Kerala, local media said.

Also read | Cyclone Tauktae to hit southern India, heavy rains predicted in 3 states

Up to 75,000 people are set to be evacuated from coastal districts in Gujarat, where the ongoing COVID-19 vaccination rollout will be suspended on Monday and Tuesday, officials told AFP.

Hospitals with coronavirus patients in the affected districts were also backing up their power supply, local district development officer Varunkumar Baranwal told AFP. 

Oxygen and power supply to hospitals in the state would be uninterrupted, Maharashtra said, while hundreds of virus patients will be moved from field hospitals.

Also read | Cyclone Tauktae: Mumbai civic body moves 580 COVID-19 patients 

India is already battling a deadly wave of infections that has pushed its healthcare system to breaking point, leading to severe shortages of hospital beds, oxygen and medicines.

The vast nation of 1.3 billion people reported just over 311,170 new infections on Sunday, taking the total tally to nearly 24.7 million. 

The death toll rose to more than 270,000 after 4,077 deaths were officially recorded over the past 24 hours. Experts say the actual toll could be significantly higher.

Last May, more than 110 people died after "super cyclone" Amphan ravaged eastern India and Bangladesh, flattening villages, destroying farms and leaving millions without electricity.

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