At least six people have been killed, with large areas inundated, houses destroyed and trees and electricity poles uprooted by a severe storm hovering off India’s west coast.
Cyclone Tauktae has been building up over the Arabian Sea and has moved northwards past Kerala and Karnataka states and is currently located northwest of Goa.
It is expected to keep moving north-westwards and make landfall on the coast of Gujarat state in the early hours of Tuesday according to a forecast by the Indian Meteorological Department.
The forecast warned of heavy damage along coastal Gujarat and said gusting wind speeds could reach 175km/h.
Very severe cyclonic storm 'Tauktae' has intensified further in last 3 hours. The eye of the cyclone is now cleraly observed in the INSAT-3D satellite imagery at 1130 IST. The diameter of eye is roughly 4 km with eye temperature -5.2°C. The wall cloud top temperature is -93°C. pic.twitter.com/b5vxre0j7Z
— India Meteorological Department (@Indiametdept) May 16, 2021
Torrential rains and high-speed winds have wreaked havoc in the coastal belts of Kerala, Karnataka and Goa causing waterlogging, uprooting trees and disrupting power supplies.
Two of those killed were in Kerala and four in Karnataka, the Indian Express newspaper reported.
Hundreds of thousands of people in these regions and adjacent Maharashtra, Gujarat and the federally administered territories of Daman and Diu have been moved to temporary relief shelters despite the risks associated with a fast-spreading second wave of COVID-19 in India.
#India Cyclone Tauktae has intensified on 16 May, and is expected to bring very strong winds and heavy rainfall across the western coast of India for the next 2-3 days. More info: https://t.co/c1nBeVqf0Q pic.twitter.com/LtbIOMS4G5
— FCDO Travel Advice (@FCDOtravelGovUK) May 16, 2021
Regions vulnerable to the cyclone needed to ensure power back-ups and stocks of essential medicines and oxygen especially at hospitals treating coronavirus patients in case transport was disrupted, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said during a meeting with state officials on Saturday.
More than 75 rescue teams of the National Disaster Response Force have been deployed all along the coast and another 22 are on standby.