Submerged coasts, formidable winds… The most powerful tropical storm to hit India in decades has claimed victims in the states of Kerala, Goa, Maharashtra and Gujarat. At least twenty-seven people died and a hundred others were missing in the west of the country, Tuesday, May 18, after the passage of Cyclone Tauktae.
Ninety-six people were still missing after their boat sank off the coast of Bombay, capital of the state of Maharashtra, said the Indian Navy, which is receiving help from two ships and helicopters in its search . The barge, with 273 people on board, was servicing oil rigs and was adrift on Monday as strong winds hit India’s west coast.
One hundred and seventy-seven passengers were rescued in “Extremely difficult sea conditions”, the navy said on Twitter. Relief operations were to continue throughout the day. Navy helicopters were able to rescue 137 other people who were adrift in another barge.
” It was scary “
Cyclone Tauktae, which evacuated more than 200,000 people, made landfall in Gujarat on Monday, with gusts reaching 185 kilometers per hour (km / h), according to the Indian meteorological department. Among the victims, a child crushed by a collapsing wall, a teenage girl killed when a roof collapsed or an 80-year-old woman killed by a fall from an electric pole.
More than 16,500 houses were damaged, 40,000 trees were uprooted and 2,400 villages were without power. “I had never seen such a devastating cyclone in Bombay, testifies Anand Shinde, an inhabitant of the megalopolis. People have suffered a lot of damage, they are going to have to fight to get out of it. “
“It was pitch black, the electricity was cut and the winds were roaring. It was scary “exclaimed a hotelier in the city of Bhavnagar. Winds and rains, with formidable force, swept through the west of the country, whose coastlines were submerged, turning the streets into rivers and forcing hundreds of thousands of people to flee. Sea level rose three meters along the coast, weather services in the coastal town of Diu reported, with winds of 133 km / h.
Vaccination campaign suspended
Tauktae strikes India as the country faces a second wave of Covid-19 of great violence. Hospitals are overcrowded, health workers are exhausted, oxygen and medicines are lacking.
Gujarat, which officially recorded 9,000 deaths from the virus, suspended the vaccination campaign for two days. Bombay did the same for a day. In this state, where most of the evacuations took place, all Covid-19 patients hospitalized within a radius of 5 kilometers from the coast have been displaced. Of the 1,400 hospitals that treat Covid-19, only sixteen have however been faced with power outages, said the official.
A risk of a tidal wave of one to two meters in some areas was reported by authorities, as the cyclone sank into the land and weakened slightly.