A powerful cyclone that hammered India’s west coast was expected to weaken on Tuesday, the weather office reported, as thousands of people were moved out of its path.
Storm surges were reported and trees uprooted in coastal towns and villages of Gujarat state where cyclone Tauktae, the most powerful in over twenty years, made landfall late Monday packing gusts of up to 210 kph (130 mph).
Over 200,000 people have been evacuated from their homes in Gujarat as authorities closed ports and key airports.
The Indian Meteorological department said in its latest bulletin that cyclone Tauktae is set to weaken to a severe cyclonic storm in the coming hours, from a “very severe” storm.
Tauktae has already claimed at least 16 lives and left a trail of devastation as it brushed past the coastal states of Kerala, Maharashtra, Goa and Karnataka, according to the authorities.
The Indian navy said it had rescued 146 people from one of two barges that were adrift near the Mumbai coastline, pointing out that surveillance planes and helicopters had been deployed to scour the seas.
The storm piles more strain on the country’s authorities already grappling with a staggering caseload of coronavirus infections.
“Our priority is to clear the roads, so there is no impact on oxygen movement,” said Gaurang Makwana, the top official of Bhavnagar district in Gujarat.