Cyclone spares India’s business capital from major damage

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    Cyclone threatat Budhwar Park Mumbai :  A 'red alert' warning indicating extremely heavy rain at is isolated places likely over Mumbai, Thane, Palghar and Raiga on June 3 was issued by the India Meteorological Department (IMD) on Monday owing to the developing tropical cyclonic storm in the Arabian Sea. Express Photo by Ganesh Shirsekar, 2nd June 2020, Mumbai.

    Mumbai (AP): The first cyclone in more than a century to hit India’s financial capital of Mumbai appeared to have largely spared the metropolis on Wednesday.
    No deaths or major damages were reported as workers began clearing fallen trees and other debris from affected areas along India’s western coastline.
    As Cyclone Nisarga crossed the central state of Maharashtra, live TV coverage showed inky black clouds framing the Arabian Sea, and trees swaying wildly as rain pounded coastal towns and villages.
    In the state capital, Mumbai, home to Bollywood, India’s largest stock exchange and more than 18 million residents, high winds whipped skyscrapers and ripped apart shanties near the beach.
    About 10,000 city residents were evacuated from their homes, municipal officials said. With powerful storms a rarity, there were no preexisting cyclone shelters, and many of the city’s large and sturdy buildings have already been converted into coronavirus isolation or treatment facilities, National Disaster Response Force spokesman Krishan Kumar said.
    “We moved people to other strong buildings where there is a supply of water,’’ he said.
    Such storms are less common in the Arabian Sea than on India’s east coast, and usually form later in the year. But Nisarga may represent ways in which the warming of oceans due to climate change is already altering lives, experts said.
    In the hours before the storm hit India’s shores, drivers and peddlers deserted Mumbai’s iconic Marine Drive, fishermen yanked their nets out of the wavy Arabian Sea and police shooed people away from beaches.
    Homes in city slums were boarded up and abandoned, and officials patrolled the streets, using bullhorns to order people to stay inside.
    Nisarga brought heavy rain and sustained winds of 100 to 110 kilometres (62 to 68 miles) per hour through Wednesday afternoon after slamming ashore near the city of Alibag, about 98 kilometres (60 miles) south of Mumbai, the Meteorological Department said.
    In Alibag, photos posted on Twitter by the disaster agency showed toppled carts, fallen trees scattered over roads and tin roofs ripped
    apart.

    By Rafiq Maqbool,
    Emily Schmall and
    Aniruddha Ghosal