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Four dead as cyclone heads for west India

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Cyclone Tauktae – India's first major tropical storm this season – is moving northwards, bringing heavy rains, thunderstorms and strong winds to several states. AFP

Four dead as cyclone heads for west India

At least four people have died in torrential rain and winds as virus-hit India braces for a powerful cyclone, officials said on May 16, with tens of thousands set to be evacuated from their homes.

Cyclone Tauktae – India’s first major tropical storm this season – is moving northwards in parallel with the country’s western coast, bringing heavy rains, thunderstorms and strong winds to several states, the meteorological department said.

It is expected to make land in coastal Gujarat as early as May 17 night, bringing wind speeds of around 150-160km/h, the weather bureau added.

Four people lost their lives on May 15 as torrential rain and winds battered Karnataka state, the disaster management authority said on May 16.

Several towns and villages were flooded and properties damaged, officials added.

Two others were reported dead and 23 fishermen were feared missing in the neighbouring state of Kerala, local media said.

Up to 75,000 people are set to be evacuated from coastal districts in Gujarat, where the ongoing Covid-19 vaccination rollout will be suspended on May 17-18, officials told AFP.

Hospitals with coronavirus patients in the affected districts were also backing up their power supply, local district development officer Varunkumar Baranwal told AFP.

Oxygen and power supply to hospitals in the state would be uninterrupted, Maharashtra said, while hundreds of virus patients will be moved from field hospitals.

India is already battling a deadly wave of infections that has pushed its healthcare system to breaking point, leading to severe shortages of hospital beds, oxygen and medicines.

Last May, more than 110 people died after “super cyclone” Amphan ravaged eastern India and Bangladesh, flattening villages, destroying farms and leaving millions without electricity.

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