Mumbai escaped the brunt of a cyclone on Wednesday after winds changed direction and the storm made landfall further south on India’s western coast than expected, giving some respite to a metropolis already ravaged by coronavirus infections.Four people died in mishaps related to the cyclone.
Cyclone Nisarga also did not cause any major damage on the southern coast of Gujarat on Wednesday afternoon and evening following landfall near Alibaug in Maharashtra. The Gujarat government had evacuated over 63,700 people from coastal areas of eight districts and 18 teams of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and six teams of State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) were deployed for rescue operations.
Flight operations resumed at Mumbai's Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport. Arrivals and departures were suspended at 2:30 pm due to strong crosswinds induced by Cyclone Nisarga.
Cyclone Nisarga was initially forecast to be the first to batter Mumbai since 1948, prompting citizens to stay off the streets and secure their homes against gale-force winds and torrential rain.
“It landed a little (further) south than what we predicted. But Mumbai may experience bad weather until tomorrow,” Madhavan Rajeevan, secretary at the Ministry of Earth Sciences, told Reuters on Wednesday.
The cyclone barrelled into the western coast around 100 kilometres (65 miles) south of India’s financial capital with winds gusting up to 120 kmh (75 mph), the India Meteorological Department said. After landfall, the cyclone headed in a northeasterly direction, the IMD said.
Section 144 (CrPC) has been imposed in Mumbai till June 4. Police have asked citizens to refrain from venturing out to coast-beaches, promenade, parks and other similar places along the coastline.
A Reuters witness in the town where the storm made landfall said the area was pummelled with heavy rain and strong winds.
Local media reported a few dozen incidents of trees being uprooted and vehicles damaged. But there were no immediate reports of casualties or major damage, officials said.
Strong crosswinds forced Mumbai airport to suspend arrivals and departures between 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. (0900-1330 GMT), after an arriving cargo plane overran the runway. There were no reported injuries from the incident.
Authorities on Tuesday moved thousands of people away from coastal areas in the vicinity of Mumbai amid fears that the city, already hard hit by COVID-19 infections, could see its healthcare system further overwhelmed.
More than 100,000 other people were evacuated from the western states of Maharashtra and Gujarat.
India’s largest container port, Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT), on Mumbai’s outskirts, said it had closed for 24 hours.
Cyclones often skirt Mumbai, a metropolis of more than 20 million people, though every year during the June-September monsoon season torrential rains flood roads and halt a suburban railway service that serves millions.
Mumbai emergency services are struggling with the nation’s largest outbreak of COVID-19 cases. The city and its surrounding areas have so far reported roughly 55,000 infections and more than 1,700 deaths from the respiratory disease.