Police personnel clear fallen trees from a road following severe cyclonic storm 'Tauktae,' at Panjim in Goa on Sunday. AFP
At least six people have died in torrential rain and winds as virus-hit India braces for a powerful cyclone, officials said on Sunday, with more than 150,000 residents 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.
It is expected to make land in coastal Gujarat early on Tuesday, bringing wind speeds of around 155-165 kilometres per hour gusting up to 185 kilometres per hour, the weather bureau added.
Thousands of disaster response personnel had been deployed to the states, while units from the coast guard, navy, army and air force had been placed on standby, Home Minister Amit Shah said in a statement.
Rescuers evacuate residents through a flooded street in Kochi. AFP
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 people died in the resort state of Goa, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant said Sunday, adding that power supply had been disrupted while some 200 houses were damaged, roads were blocked and more than 1,000 trees uprooted. Two others were reported dead and 23 fishermen were feared missing in Kerala, local media said.
NDRF personnel clear fallen trees from a road following severe cyclonic in Goa on Sunday. AFP
More than 150,000 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, the state government said.
The meterological department has warned of storm surges of up to three metres high (9.8 feet) in some coastal districts of Gujarat.
Hospitals with coronavirus patients in the affected districts were also backing up their power supply, local district development officer Varunkumar Baranwal said.
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.
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.
Cyclone Yaas was powering across the Bay of Bengal and would batter the eastern states of Odisha and West Bengal, and also Bangladesh, on Wednesday, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
It also caused huge damage to Kerala’s coastal areas where dozens of homes were washed away and hundreds of villagers took shelter in camps. The authorities said Kerala will receive heavy rains for two more days, though its intensity will weaken by Sunday.
Netizens have praised the lady officer on Twitter. One user who goes by the name, Sushree said, “Inspirational... made my day.”
The Coromandel Express, which runs from Kolkata to Chennai, derailed and fell on the opposite track, with many people still trapped, the reports said.
Sheikh Mohammed added in a tweet on Twitter: "We found its executive director at the service counters, receiving customers, speeding up procedures, and contributing to clearing transactions. The secret shopper assured us that providing the service did not exceed five minutes."
The first lady arrived in Cairo from Amman, where she attended the wedding of Crown Prince Hussein. She is travelling to Morocco on Saturday before heading to Portugal, the final stop of her tour, on Monday.