A significant cyclone is approaching southwestern India with strong winds and rain already claiming the lives of at least six people, reports said Monday.
India officials said Monday the cyclone approaching from the Arabian Sea was expected to bring rain and winds with speeds of up to 140 kilometers an hour.
The Category 4 cyclone called Tauktae is the first substantial storm of the season. It is expected to make landfall Tuesday in India's Gujarat state. The India Meteorological Department is preparing for the storm's arrival by mobilizing rescue teams to the most vulnerable areas and asking residents to leave.
Officials said the storm was expected to hamper India's fight against a recent coronavirus increase. This has already killed thousands in the past few weeks. Over the past few days, daily new cases in the country have risen past 400,000. The surge has harmed the nation's health care system - forcing local governments to impose lockdowns.
Southwestern Karnataka state's disaster management authority said Monday the storm had killed four people and villages along the Arabian Sea coast had been damaged. The agency said the storm might destroy roads and cut supplies to those areas.
Karnataka officials said a woman was killed Monday after she was hit by a coconut tree, while a man riding a motorcycle was killed by an uprooted electric pole.
India officials said they have already deployed 2,500 government rescuer workers to six states that were within the Cyclone's path - Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Goa.
The India Meteorological Department said Cyclone Tauktae was currently moving at 11 kilometers an hour just 660 kilometers south-southeast of Veraval in Gujarat state.
Will pass to the west of Mumbai.
Landfall expected on Gujarat coast Monday night
Gusts over 185kmh
3 metre storm surge possible to east of landfall
Here’s the forecast and rainfall footprint
100-200mm possible parts of NW #Indiahttps://t.co/ayplaqvCAt pic.twitter.com/BrAt3WMGHV — BBC Weather (@bbcweather) May 16, 2021
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked government agencies to prepare for the storm.
The former chief of India's weather agency, K.J. Ramesh, said recent storms had become more ferocious as a result of rises in ocean-surface temperatures. He said the amount of heat trapped in the oceans in their upper 700 meters had been gradually increasing - making storms much more powerful.