Cyclone Tauktae batters Mumbai, airport closed for operations till 8 pm

Cyclone Tauktae: Two persons were killed in rain-related incidents. Thousands of people were evacuated from the coastal region as a precautionary measure.

The cyclonic storm Tauktae formed over the Arabian Sea, which intensified into a very severe cyclonic storm by Monday morning, caused gusty winds and heavy rains in Mumbai. The wind speed of 114 kmph was recorded around 2 pm at the weather station based at Afghan Church in south Mumbai’s Colaba area, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) said in a release.

Two persons were killed in rain-related incidents here. Thousands of people were evacuated from the coastal region as a precautionary measure. Raigad district is on red alert while Mumbai, Thane and Palghar districts are on orange alert.

Several incidents of uprooted trees and collapsed buildings were reported from the city. Two barges with 410 persons onboard went adrift off the Mumbai coast. The Indian Navy Search and Rescue team – INS Kolkata – has sailed out for assistance.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Monday on the Cyclone Tauktae related situation in the state, official sources said.

As the cyclone inched closer to the Mumbai coast, the Bandra-Worli sea-link was closed for traffic in view of the strong winds and people were asked to take alternate routes.

Mumbai airport has been closed for operations till 8 pm on Monday. Three Mumbai-bound flights operated by IndiGo and SpiceJet were diverted. The IndiGo flight was diverted to Hyderabad, while a SpiceJet flight was diverted to Surat. Another IndiGo flight was sent back to Lucknow.

The train services were hit due to water-logging and trees falling on railway tracks. Local trains’ services of the Central Railway were disrupted between suburban Ghatkopar and Vikhroli for about half-an-hour as a tree fell on an overhead wire while a train was heading towards neighbouring Thane.

Services on the harbour line, that provides rail connectivity to Navi Mumbai, were also affected after a vinyl banner fell on an overhead wire between Chunabhatti and Guru Tej Bahadur stations around 11.45 am. The banner was removed after about half-an-hour and train services were resumed. Due to the strong wind, some plastic sheets covering the roof of the common passenger area between the suburban and main lines at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) were blown away in the morning.

Many people took to social media to share videos and photos to convey the intensity of the cyclonic storm. The video showing high waves hitting the Gateway of India has been shared widely.

Cyclone Tauktae is likely to intensify further in the next 24 hours and reach the Gujarat coast by Monday evening. As per IMD, the landfall is expected to take place between 8 pm and 11 pm on Monday and will cross the Gujarat coast between Porbandar and Mahuva in the Bhavnagar district with a slightly lower wind speed (around 155-165 kmph) than its current intensity (180-190 kmph).

(With PTI inputs)

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