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July 9, 2020
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Mumbai on tenterhooks as cyclone Nisarga approaches

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As cyclone Nisarga intensified on Wednesday morning, it is likely to make landfall on the northern coast of Maharashtra in the afternoon between 1 pm to 4 pm, said Mrutyunjay Mohapatra, the India Meteorological Department Director-General.

IMAGE: A fisherman makes his way back to the shore after anchoring his boat before cyclone Nisarga makes its landfall, in Mumbai. Photograph: Francis Mascarenhas/Reuters

“Travelling with strong wind speed at 100-120 kmph, it is expected to make landfall during the afternoon, that means between 1 pm to 4 pm especially districts of Raigad, Thane and Mumbai,” said Mohapatra.

IMAGE: A lifeguard walks on Juhu beach before cyclone Nisarga makes its landfall, in Mumbai. Photograph: Francis Mascarenhas/Reuters

The IMD chief cautioned people to remain safe as the cyclone is likely to make structural damage such as uprooting trees, damage to thatched houses and so on. He also advised against road and rail traffic.

The intensity of the cyclone is likely to weaken by midnight, and subsiding completely by Thursday morning, added the IMD Director-General.

IMAGE: Lifeguards are seen patrolling Juhu beach ahead of the Cyclone Nisarga, in Mumbai. Photograph: ANI Photo

Bracing for the impact of what is being billed as the most severe cyclone to hit Mumbai, the Central Railway rescheduled special trains and many airlines also cancelled their Mumbai operations.

The CR has rescheduled, diverted and regulated some trains on Wednesday, an official said. These include five special trains departing from Mumbai. Three special trains will be either divetred or regulated enroute, he added.

SEE: Strong winds and high tides hit Versova Beach in Mumbai

 

With the cyclone set to make landfall on Wednesday, Maharashtra and Gujarat activated their disaster response mechanism, deploying NDRF teams and evacuating people from areas likely to be hit.

The two western states, already battling a raging pandemic, which has put their health infrastructure under severe strain, opened new fronts to tackle the fallout of the cyclone.

IMAGE: Commuters rush to help bikers who met with an accident after their bike skidded off the road during light rainfall, in Navi Mumbai. Photograph: PTI Photo

Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to their chief ministers on Tuesday and assured them all possible help from the Centre.

Ten teams of the National Disaster Response Force have been deployed in parts of Maharashtra for rescue operations in view of the cyclonic storm, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said. An alert has been issued for Mumbai city and suburbs, Thane, Palghar, Raigad, Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg districts.

Town planning authority MMRDA said nearly 150 patients at its COVID facility in Bandra Kurla Complex in Mumbai have been shifted to another location as a precaution in the wake of the cyclone.

The Indian Navy has has kept five flood teams and three diving teams on stand-by in Mumbai, the official said.

These teams, trained and equipped for rescue operations, are stationed at various naval areas across Mumbai and can provide early response over a larger area, he said.

IMAGE: Indian Navy rescue team gears up to assist citizens in times of natural calamities ahead of Cyclone Nisarga, in Mumbai. Photograph: PTI Photo

“We have evacuated more than 3,500 people from koliwadas (fishermen colonies) and temporary houses to safer structures like schools, community halls and government buildings,” superintendent of police Raigad, Anil Paraskar said.

Mumbai hasn’t “experienced a serious cyclone landfall since 1891”, according to Adam Sobel, professor of atmospheric science at Columbia University.

Mumbai experienced severe floods in 2005, and more recently in 2017 and 2019, but none of them were due to cyclones.

— With inputs from ANI

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