Cyclone Nisarga, which increased into a severe cyclonic storm in the Arabian Sea, is making landfall along India's western coast, forcing a high alert in the financial hub of Mumbai and evacuation of tens of thousands of people.
At least 100,000 people, including coronavirus patients, were moved to safer locations, according to officials. The storm gush threatened to flood beaches and low-lying shantytowns as city authorities struggle to contain the pandemic.
The cyclone threatens to worsen forecasts for an economic turnaround as a nine-week-long government-imposed coronavirus lockdown began to ease this week. India's largest container port, Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust, on the outskirts of Mumbai, was ordered to shut for 24 hours, the port officials said in a statement.
Cyclones often skirt tightly populated Mumbai, though every year during pouring rains of the June-September monsoon season roads are submerged, and the suburban railway service that serves millions of people comes to a halt. But the city has rarely faced the brunt of cyclones - the last severe storm to hit the city struck in 1948, killing 12 people and injuring more than 100. The NDRF has mobilized 32 teams, and a total of 1,500 men are ready in the two states to help with evacuations and relief.
Nisarga is the second cyclone to strike India in a little less than two weeks. On May 21, Cyclone Amphan battered the country's eastern coast including Kolkata, and neighboring Bangladesh, killing more than 100 people and leaving a trail of destruction. We just hope that people staying in Maharashtra are safe and survive this cyclone with least damage.