Mumbai: A cyclonic storm dumped heavy rains on Mumbai on Wednesday, forcing early closure of schools and offices, and was expected to bring more rains to the northern coast of Maharashtra, weather officials said.
Cyclone Phyan bypassed Mumbai, India’s financial capital, where residents in low-lying areas were evacuated and coast guard vessels were dispatched to bring back fishing trawlers caught in the rough seas.
A cyclone alert is in place in northern Maharashtra for the next 12 hours, said Ajit Tyagi, director general of the Indian Meteorological Department. An alert for Gujarat has been removed.
“You can expect heavy rains, high wind speeds of up to 80 kph, rough seas and strong surges. The intensity will gradually decrease over the next few hours,” Tyagi said.
Tropical cyclones are not common in Mumbai, which was last hit in 1940, he said.
Extra buses and trains were pressed into service in Mumbai, where city officials acted swiftly to prevent a repeat of the scene in July 2005, when a deluge killed more than 500 residents and left millions stranded without basic amenities.
‘We are fully prepared. Disaster management cells are active and we have rescue and relief teams on standby,” said state chief secretary Johny Joseph.
“We are advising people to stay home.”
At Mumbai’s airport, the country’s busiest, rain and windy conditions were causing delays of up to two hours, a spokesman said, and some flights were being diverted.
The rains could hamper crushing of sugarcane in Maharashtra, the country’s top producer of sugar.
Harvesting of cotton in Maharashtra and Gujarat has also been affected, officials said, with raw cotton arrivals impacted at major markets in north Maharashtra.
The first day of Sri Lanka’s tour opener against an Indian Board President’s XI was washed out in Mumbai, as was the final one-day international between Australia and India.