NEW DELHI, May 18, (Agencies): India said on Tuesday that cyclone Tauktae killed at least 21 people and several others were injured in the western Indian states of Gujarat and Maharashtra and southern state of Karnataka. Press Trust of India said quoting officials from Gujarat that seven people were killed in cyclone Tauktae related incidents in the state as hundreds of houses, roads and bridges were destroyed at the coastal regions of the state. In Maharashtra, six people were killed Monday but the state’s capital, Mumbai, was largely spared from major damage even as heavy rains pounded the city’s coastline and high winds whipped its skyscrapers. Over the weekend, the cyclone killed six people in Kerala, Karnataka and Goa states as it moved along the western coast.
The IMD added that the cyclone Tauktae weakened around midnight after crossing the Gujarat coast as an extremely severe cyclonic storm. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had instructed all the concerned authorities in the state and central governments to take all necessary measures during a high level meeting last Saturday. Teams of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), Air Force and Navy rescued several stranded people as they were kept ready for operation. The India Meteorological Department (IMD) had warned that the cyclone would touch Gujarat coast around 18th May with the wind speed ranging upto 175 kmph. Five other states along the western and southern Indian coast including Kerala, Maharashtra witnessed to heavy rainfall, strong winds and huge sea waves due to the cyclone. Meanwhile, the Indian navy is working to rescue crew members from a sunken barge and a second cargo vessel that was adrift Tuesday off the coast of Mumbai after a deadly cyclone struck the western coast.
The navy said it has rescued 177 of the 400 people on the two barges in the Arabia Sea. Three warships, maritime patrol aircraft and helicopters joined the rescue operations and were scouring the sea, the navy said. Both barges were working for Oil and Natural Gas Corp., the largest crude oil and natural gas company in India. The company said the barges were carrying personnel deployed for offshore drilling and their anchors gave away during the storm. The cyclone has weakened, but the India Meteorological Department forecast heavy rainfall for many parts of Gujarat and Maharashtra in the coming days. Ahead of the cyclone, about 150,000 people were evacuated from low-lying areas in Maharashtra and Gujarat states. S.N. Pradhan, director of India’s National Disaster Response Force, said social distancing norms were being followed in evacuation shelters and rescue teams were clearing debris from affected areas.
Both states, among the hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic, had scrambled disaster response teams, fearing the storm could endanger India’s fight against the virus with supply lines cut, roads destroyed and lockdown measures slowing relief work. Tropical cyclones are less common in the Arabian Sea than on India’s east coast and usually form later in the year. Experts say changing climate patterns have caused them to become more intense, rather than more frequent. In May 2020, nearly 100 people died when Cyclone Amphan, the most powerful storm to hit eastern India in more than a decade, ravaged the region