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Navi Mumbai: A corporation worker works to clear an uprooted tree that fell on a road during Cyclone Nisarga. (PTI)
Navi Mumbai: A corporation worker works to clear an uprooted tree that fell on a road during Cyclone Nisarga. (PTI)

Mumbai slips through Nisarga’s clutches, two dead in Alibag

  • The cyclonic storm made landfall further south than expected, thus minimizing damage in its path
  • The cyclone struck Alibag at around 1pm and took around 3 hours to complete the landfall

Severe cyclonic storm Nisarga made landfall south of Mumbai at Alibag on Wednesday, flattening houses, uprooting trees and snapping electric poles. The damage, however, was less than feared as the wind changed direction and the storm made landfall further south than expected.

A 58-year-old man died in Alibag when an electric pole fell on him, authorities said.

The cyclone, the first in nearly a century for Mumbai, struck Alibag around 1 pm and took around three hours to complete the landfall, during which it entered Mumbai and Thane districts.

Heavy rain lashed the coastal areas, with winds of 100-110 kmph gusting up to 120kmph. Surges from the sea flooded some of the low-lying areas from where people had been evacuated.

“Nearly one lakh people had been evacuated from the cyclone spots in Maharashtra and Gujarat and moved to the relief camps," said S.N. Pradhan, director general, National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF), adding that more than 43 NDRF teams have begun relief and restoration work in the two states.

Eight NDRF teams and five teams of the Indian Navy were deployed in Mumbai.

The Mumbai fire department had placed 93 lifeguards on beaches, along with 150 flood rescue teams. “For now, it seems that Mumbai has escaped the clutch of cyclone, but we are keeping guard," said Prabhat Rahangdale, deputy municipal commissioner, disaster management, at the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). “Also, there are 96 squads deployed in each high risk division to move trees uprooted by the storm," he said.

A control room was set up at the BMC headquarters for cyclone management, where representatives of all agencies were present for coordination.

The situation was also being monitored via more than 5,000 cameras installed in the city.

People were evacuated from Mumbai’s coastal settlements in Colaba, Worli, Bandra, Dharavi, Versova and Lokhandwala Complex, among others. Those evacuated were also checked for fever and oxygen saturation levels.

Animals from the city’s zoo were moved to their holding areas to avoid any damage from tree fall. The zoo emergency response team of 20 people was also on alert.

“While it is a great achievement that human life loss has been largely contained with early warning and evacuations, the loss to property and livelihoods is going to take a huge toll on the impacted communities," said Dr Anshu Sharma, co-founder, SEEDS, a disaster management organisation.

Mumbai International Airport Ltd cancelled flight operations between 2.30pm and 7pm, affecting 12 departures and eight arrivals. India’s largest container port, Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust, on the outskirts of Mumbai, was shut for 24 hours. Goa reported very heavy rainfall of 127 mm in last 24 hours before the landfall, as the cyclone passed close to the coast.

The coastal districts of Mumbai, Sindhugurg, Ratnagiri and Raigad were also lashed by rain on Wednesday morning. Alibagh experienced 51 mm rain till 5 pm, while it was 38 mm in Ratnagiri. “This year, both Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal were about 1 degree warmer than normal (in early May) and hence the conditions were conducive to increasing the strength of cyclones," said Dr Jayaraman Srinivasan, distinguished scientist, Divecha Centre for Climate Change, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore.

Kalpana.p@livemint.com

Srishti Choudhary contributed to this story.

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