New Delhi, May 17 (EFE).- Thousands of people were evacuated from the western coast of India ahead of an “extremely severe” cyclone that will make landfall on Monday evening amid a deadly surge of coronavirus in the country.
The Indian Meteorology Department predicted that the cyclone would cross the western state of Gujarat with wind gusts of up to 185 km per hour (115 miles per hour).
The weather department said the cyclone “Tauktae” moved with a speed of about 20 km per hour in the wee hours of Monday and intensified into an “extremely severe cyclonic storm,” centered about 160 km of Mumbai.
“It is very likely to reach (the) Gujarat coast in the evening hours of May 17 and cross Gujarat coast during the night as a very severe cyclonic storm with a maximum sustained wind speed 155-165 km per hour gusting to 185 km per hour.”
The met department warned of material damage in the region, including Maharashtra, which houses India’s financial capital of Mumbai.
The IMD has also issued an alert for floods and tidal waves that could inundate coastal areas during the landfall.
It has called for total suspension of fishing operations in the coastal areas at least until Tuesday noon.
Pankaj Kumar, a Gujarat government official, said, in a statement, that the authorities had already evacuated more than 135,000 people.
The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) said on Twitter that it had deployed over 100 teams to six states to assist in evacuation and rescue efforts.
The government has deployed armed forces in preparations for rescue and relief operations.
The Indian Air Force said it flew five C-130J and two An-32 transport aircraft to Gujarat with rescuers and cargo.
The cyclone hits the country amid a devastating second wave of coronavirus with the highest daily number of infections and fatalities.
Cyclones often hit the Indian coast leaving a trail of death and destruction.
Cyclone Burevi hit the south of the country in December last year, killing at least seven and damaging hundreds of homes.
In May 2020, super cyclone Amphan killed more than 100 people in India and Bangladesh. EFE