New Delhi, Jun 1 (efe-epa).- India on Monday issued an alert for its western coast as it began bracing for a cyclonic storm expected to hit this week, officials said on Monday, putting further pressure on the government machinery amid rising COVID-19 cases.
The cyclone would be the second to hit India in less than two weeks, after severe cyclonic storm Amphan killed at least 90 people in eastern India after making landfall on May 20.
The weather department said that a depression in the Arabian Sea was “very likely to intensify into a deep depression” by Monday evening and “intensify further into a cyclonic storm during the subsequent 24 hours”.
The authorities issued a yellow-coded warning for the coastal states of Maharashtra and Gujarat, predicting that the cyclonic storm, named “Nisarg,” may hit the coast between Tuesday and Wednesday, bringing strong winds and heavy to very heavy rainfall.
“It is very likely to move nearly northwards initially till Jun. 2 morning and then recurve north-northeastwards and cross north Maharashtra and south Gujarat coasts during evening/night of Jun. 3,” the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
The depression, it said, had formed a low-pressure area and was on Monday some 670 km (416 miles) away from Mumbai, India’s main commercial hub and capital city of Maharashtra state.
The weather department warned that very heavy rainfall could lash Mumbai when the cyclone crosses the coastal city.
Fishermen have been warned of high waves in the range of 2.3 – 6.5 meters (7.5-21 feet) as squally winds are expected to hit the western coast.
“It will gradually increase becoming gale wind speed reaching 60-70 kmph gusting to 80 kmph from Jun. 2 morning and further becoming 105-115 kmph gusting to 125 kmph,” the IMD said, warning of “very likely rough to very rough” sea conditions.
On Jun. 3-4, the wind speed is likely to reach 90-100 kmph, gusting to 110 kmph over the Gujarat coasts, and the sea condition is very likely to be high to very high.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Udhav Thackeray has advised caution to his government and urged people to “remain alert” as he assured that the administration “is fully geared up to tackle any eventuality.
In a televised address on Sunday evening, he appealed to fishermen to not venture into the Arabian Sea as “the storm is brewing.”
The cyclone warning comes as the nation has begun easing the world’s longest lockdown, imposed on Mar. 25 to stop the spread of the coronavirus, which has infected more than 191,000 people and claimed nearly 5,500 lives in the country, making it the seventh most-affected by the virus.
Maharashtra and Gujarat are both among the worst-hit states by the Covid-19 crisis.
Meanwhile relief and rehabilitation efforts have continued in the eastern states of West Bengal and Odisha, where Amphan has left a trail of devastation in its wake and left thousands of people homeless. EFE-EPA