India, which is experiencing its worst moment of the pandemic, is now also facing one of the worst cyclones to hit the country in decades. His death left at least 33 dead and nearly 100 missing. At the same time, the country has recorded the highest number of daily deaths from the Covid-19 pandemic: 4,329.
With winds reaching 130 km / h, Cyclone Tauktae claimed victims in western states such as Kerala, Goa, Maharashtra and Gujarat. The streets turned into rivers, causing hundreds of thousands of people to flee. High winds knocked down houses, trees and electric towers.
Hundreds of thousands of people were without power after the cyclone hit the coast of Gujarat in western India on Monday evening, leaving a trail of destruction. More than 16,500 houses were damaged and 40,000 trees uprooted. As a result, there were roadblocks which made it difficult for the rescue teams to work.
“I have never experienced such intensity in my life,” said a hotel worker in Bhavnagar town. “It was a dark night, the electricity was cut, the winds weren’t stopping. It was terrifying,” he said.
Gujarat Regional Prime Minister Vijay Rupani said the death toll rose to 33, mainly due to collapsing walls and ceilings.
Off Mumbai, an oil tanker sank amid the storm. There were 273 people on board. Teams managed to save 182, but dozens are still missing. The Indian Navy has set up a major search operation, which is encountering difficulties when searching for castaways in the midst of waves up to seven meters high.
“This is one of the most difficult excavations I have seen in the past four decades,” said Murlidhar Sadashiv Pawar, deputy chief of the navy.
Maharashtra, a state whose capital is Mumbai, has evicted nearly 12,500 people from coastal areas.
While facing the cyclone, India broke a new record and recorded, at the end of Monday (17), nearly 280,000 Covid-19 infections in the past 24 hours, in addition to 4,329 deaths. This was the highest daily number of deaths to date. In total, the pandemic has killed more than 250,000 people in the country.
Authorities in Gujarat are trying to avoid power cuts to 400 coastal hospitals and oxygen factories. On Sunday, 580 Covid-19 patients were transferred from three field hospitals to safer places.
The state of Gujarat, which has so far recorded 9,000 deaths from Covid-19, has suspended the vaccination campaign for two days. Mumbai did the same for a day. The Gujarat government said it expects the weather to improve on Wednesday (19).