More than 200,000 people were evacuated from their homes in the Indian state of Gujarat and authorities shut ports and major airports as the most powerful cyclone in more than two decades made landfall in the state late on Monday.
Rain intensified and several incidents of power outages were reported in the state. Electricity pylons and trees were uprooted and buildings were damaged in coastal areas of Gujarat, state authorities said.
With the worst of the storm expected to last for several hours after it slammed into the state’s coast, it piles more pressure on Indian authorities already struggling with a huge caseload of COVID-19 infections.
“This cyclone is a terrible double blow for millions of people in India whose families have been struck down by record COVID infections and deaths. Many families are barely staying afloat,” said Udaya Regmi, South Asia head of delegation, International Federation of Red Cross.
The cyclone has already killed at least 16 people and left a trail of destruction as it brushed past the coastal states of Kerala, Karnataka, Goa and Maharashtra, the authorities said.
“The landfall process has started, and it is expected to last for four hours. The intensity of the Cyclone Tauktae will go down once it is over,” Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani said in a social media address on late Monday evening.