Coronavirus-hit Mumbai appeared to escape the worst of Cyclone Nisarga on Wednesday as the first severe storm to threaten India’s financial capital in more than 70 years left it largely unscathed after Mumbai and its surrounds are usually sheltered from ripping roofs off buildings in nearby coastal towns.
Cyclones — the last deadly storm to hit the city was in 1948 — but authorities evacuated at least 100,000 people, including coronavirus patients, from flood-prone areas in the states of Maharashtra and Gujarat.
The storm made landfall near the coastal town of Alibag, around 100 kilometres south of Mumbai, on Wednesday afternoon, meteorologists said.
It then crossed Maharashtra’s coast, with its path veering to the east of Mumbai and gradually weakened by Wednesday evening, they added.
The cyclone brought heavy rainfall — with winds of 100-110 kilometres per hour and gusts of up to 120 kph.
Mumbai experienced downpours throughout the afternoon, with strong winds toppling trees in some cases. City authorities said there were no reports of injuries or deaths, though the rains caused compound walls to collapse in some neighbourhoods.
The beach town of Alibag fared worse, with the cyclone tearing roofs off homes and overturning mobile food stalls.
A 45-year-old professor who evacuated from his house near the sea said he could see corrugated roofing flying through the air as Nisarga’s powerful winds struck.
‘The intensity is very strong and nothing like weather events we’ve seen before,’ said Milind Dhodre, who lives in Alibag with his wife and son.
The coastal town is a favoured haunt of Bollywood stars and industrialists, who own holiday homes there.
The port city of Pen also suffered damage, with one video showing a ripped off metal roof smashing into nearby buildings.
In Mumbai, police announced fresh restrictions on the city of 18 million people — which was just beginning to emerge from a months-long lockdown — banning gatherings of four people or more until Thursday afternoon.
India’s worst-hit city, Mumbai is home to a fifth of the country’s more than 200,000 coronavirus cases.
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