More than 200,000 people had to leave their homes in the Indian state of Gujarat on Monday (17) after the arrival of a tropical cyclone that promises to be the most intense to hit the region in decades.
The phenomenon could further complicate the health situation in the country, which is already facing the largest Covid-19 epidemic on the planet, with more than 280,000 new confirmed cases and 4,000 deaths per day from the disease.
“This cyclone is a double setback for millions of people in India, in families who have been hit by record infections and deaths from Covid. Many families barely managed to survive, ”Red Cross regional representative Udaya Regmi told Reuters news agency.
Vaccination against the coronavirus has been suspended as a preventive measure in the region most affected by the cyclone and there is still no estimate of when she should return to work.
With winds exceeding 180 kilometers per hour and causing waves of up to four meters, the Tauktae has already reached the shores of four other states in the country, leaving a trail of destruction and at least 16 confirmed deaths to date. .
The financial capital of India, the city of Mumbai was one of the hardest hit by the cyclone, which flooded rail tracks and access roads and forced the closure of the local airport. In addition, ships with more than 400 people on board are adrift at sea awaiting rescue.
Despite this, authorities expect most of the damage caused by the Tauktae to be concentrated in Gujarat and neighboring Maharashtra state. In an attempt to avert a humanitarian tragedy, local authorities ordered the evacuation of tens of thousands of people and ordered the closure of ports and airports.
The cyclone landed in Gujarat on Monday evening at local time (early afternoon in Brazil), immediately causing power outages across the region.
The Indian Meteorological Department classified the phenomenon as “extremely serious”, with winds of nearly 210 kilometers per hour – similar, therefore, to a Category 3 hurricane.
Thus, it must be the strongest cyclone to hit Gujarat since 1998, when 4,000 people were killed in the state during a similar phenomenon.
According to the Chief Minister (equivalent to governor) of Gujarat, Vijay Rupani, the Tauktae is expected to take up to four hours to establish itself on land and, after this period, the tendency is that ‘he begins to lose strength.
Local authorities are also worried about the effect the cyclone could have on Asian lions, an endangered species that is only found in an area of Gujarat that must be severely affected.
“There are around 40 lions on some stretches off Saurashtra, and we are monitoring. Some lions have already moved to higher lands. We keep our fingers crossed and pray that the lions are safe,” Shyamal said. Tikadar, who heads the state’s conservation team.