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A powerful cyclone kills 24 people and left 96 missing in Tauktae, India

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Tauktae, the strongest storm to hit the region in more than two decades, washed ashore in Gujarat state with heavy rains, heavy storm surge and sustained winds of up to 165 kilometres.

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A powerful cyclone from the Arabian Sea made landfall on India’s western coast on Monday , hours after authorities evacuated hundreds of thousands of people and suspended COVID-19 vaccines in one state. The authorities speak of at least 24 dead and almost a hundred missing.

Cyclone Tauktae, the most powerful storm to hit the region in more than two decades, washed ashore in Gujarat state with heavy rains, heavy storm surge and sustained winds of up to 165 kilometers per hour, the Meteorological Department of Gujarat said. India.

Twelve people were reported to have died before the storm hit land and hundreds of thousands were evacuated , a process complicated by the coronavirus pandemic.

The massive storm came as India battles a devastating wave of coronavirus, and both the storm and the virus could exacerbate the effects of the other . The storm had already caused the suspension of some vaccination efforts and there is an increased risk of virus transmission in crowded evacuation shelters.

In Gujarat, vaccinations were suspended for two days and authorities worked to evacuate hundreds of thousands of people to temporary aid shelters. State Prime Minister Vijay Rupani called on officials to ensure that the oxygen supply to hospitals is not interrupted.

In Maharashtra, six people were killed, the Press Trust of India news agency reported. The state capital, Mumbai, was hit by heavy rain and strong winds, forcing authorities to suspend operations at the city’s main airport .

Fishing boats off the coast in both states returned to port and thousands of rescue and relief teams, along with ships and planes, were deployed for recovery operations.

Rain from the storm previously killed six people in Kerala, Karnataka and Goa states over the weekend before it moved along the western coast.

Meanwhile, virus lockdown measures could delay relief work after the storm, and damage from the storm could destroy roads and cut vital supply lines for vaccines and medical supplies needed for coronavirus patients . Damage from the storm is also likely to hit the poor especially hard, already on edge from the economic impact of the virus.

The director of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in South Asia, Udaya Regmi, said the cyclone is a “terrible double blow” for families already affected by infections and deaths. by COVID-19.

“ The potential impacts of Cyclone Tauktae are terrifying as this monstrous storm threatens the state of Gujarat. Every effort must continue to be made to keep people safe from this dangerous storm and terrible pandemic , ”Regmi said.

The western coast of India is no stranger to devastating cyclones, but changing weather patterns have caused them to become more intense, rather than more frequent.

In May 2020, nearly 100 people died after Cyclone Amphan, the most powerful storm to hit eastern India in more than a decade, devastated the region and left millions without power .

With information from AP

 

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