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Cyclone Nisarga bears down on India’s west coast

A witness in Alibag, the town where the storm made landfall, said the area was pummelled with heavy rain and strong winds.

Local media reported a few dozen incidents of trees being uprooted and vehicles being damaged, but there were no immediate reports of casualties or major damage, officials said.

Strong crosswinds forced Mumbai airport to suspend arrivals and departures on Wednesday afternoon and evening after an arriving cargo plane overshot the runway. There were no reported injuries from the incident.

Authorities on Tuesday moved thousands of people away from coastal areas in the vicinity of Mumbai amid fears that the city, already hard hit by COVID-19 infections, could see its healthcare system further overwhelmed.

Authorities shifted 150 COVID-19 patients to other hospitals as the newly built makeshift hospital they were being treated in was located in a low-lying area.

More than 100,000 other people were evacuated from the western states of Maharashtra and Gujarat. Homes in slums were left and locked up, while municipal officials used bull-horns to order people to stay inside.

A municipal employee issues an evacuation warning by the shore of the Arabian Sea.

A municipal employee issues an evacuation warning by the shore of the Arabian Sea.Credit:AP

India’s largest container port, Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust, on Mumbai’s outskirts, said it had closed for 24 hours.

The state of Goa, south of Maharashtra, already received 127 millimetres of torrential rain – about a week’s average – as the cyclone moved along the coast.

Cyclones often skirt Mumbai, a metropolis of more than 20 million people, though every year during the June to September monsoon season torrential rains flood roads and halt a suburban railway service that serves millions.

Mumbai emergency services are currently struggling with the nation’s largest outbreak of COVID-19 cases. The city and its surrounding areas have so far reported about 55,000 infections and more than 1700 deaths from the disease, while India has so far reported more than 200,000 cases and 5800 deaths.

This Tuesday, June 2, 2020, satellite image released by NASA shows cyclone Nisarga roaring toward the western coast of India.

This Tuesday, June 2, 2020, satellite image released by NASA shows cyclone Nisarga roaring toward the western coast of India. Credit:NASA

Nisarga came just two weeks after cyclone Amphan tore through the Bay of Bengal on India’s east coast and battered West Bengal state, killing more than 100 people in India and neighbouring Bangladesh.

Reuters, AP

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