Cyclone Tauktae caused an estimated 100 billion Indian rupees ($1.4 billion) worth of damage in the Indian state of Gujarat after making landfall on May 17, Times of India reported. Agriculture, energy and housing sectors have recorded the highest losses. The cyclone affected states along the west coast of India.
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India was slammed on Monday by the strongest storm on record to reach its west coast, hampering authorities’ response to the Covid-19 crisis in some of the country’s hardest hit regions.
Tropical Cyclone Tauktae, a storm with wind speeds equivalent to a high-end Category 3 hurricane that formed in the Arabian Sea, made landfall Monday night local time in Gujarat. It strengthened slightly as it hit the western state with maximum sustained winds of 205 kilometers per hour (125 mph), according to the United States’ Joint Typhoon Warning Center.
By Tuesday morning, it had weakened from an “extremely severe cyclonic storm” to a “severe cyclonic storm,” according to the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD).
Photos and videos show highways turned into rivers by the heavy rain, and trees and power lines toppled by ferocious winds. The cyclone has killed at least 26 people across the coastal states of Gujarat, Kerala, Karnataka, Goa and Maharashtra, according to state authorities.
The deaths were due to drowning at sea, house collapses, lightning strikes and other accidents linked to the severe weather, according to states’ disaster management authorities.
This comes as India reels from its second wave of coronavirus, which has infected millions and killed tens of thousands since it began in mid-March. Though daily case figures began declining over the past week, Covid-related deaths continue to break record highs and the crisis is far from over — especially in rural areas with fewer resources and medical supplies.
Covid patients were among the hundreds of thousands evacuated from low-lying areas this week as the region braced for the cyclone’s arrival. In Mumbai, 580 patients from makeshift care centers were moved to various hospitals on Friday and Saturday, according to the city’s municipal corporation.
It’s not the first time India has dealt with natural disasters during the pandemic — last year, the country faced cyclones in late May and early June that also prompted mass evacuations.
Back then, however, India’s cases were still relatively low, at fewer than 10,000 a day, and the country was emerging from a stringent lockdown.
This time, India is the global epicenter of the pandemic. Its health care system has collapsed and patients are still dying from shortages of oxygen and other supplies. The government is more fragile and under greater scrutiny than before, as it struggles to contain the outbreak while facing heavy criticism both at home and overseas.
And the cyclone could be just the harbinger of more disaster to come, as India’s months-long monsoon season approaches.
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A tropical cyclone on Australia’s west coast destroyed several homes and cut electricity to tens of thousands of people overnight before weakening on Monday morning.
Officials said around 70% of the structures in the coastal town of Kalbarri, about 500 kilometres (310 miles) north of state capital Perth, had sustained damage when the category three storm made landfall late on Sunday.
“The devastation caused by Cyclone Seroja is widespread and severe,” Western Australia state premier Mark McGowan told reporters.
Around 40% of the damage was “major”, WA Emergency Services Commissioner Darren Klemm said.
No deaths or major injuries have been reported.
A recovery effort is now underway as the biggest threat has passed, McGowan said. There are 31,500 customers still without power supply, which he said could take days to restore.
Tropical cyclone Seroja was downgraded after making landfall to a category two system and was later downgraded further to a tropical low, but bringing heavy rain and strong winds.
Photos on social media and local broadcasts showed downed powerlines, debris and houses stripped of roofs and walls. Western Australia state authorities opened three evacuation centres for displaced residents.
The region was on high alert for the storm, given that houses and other buildings were not built to withstand tropical cyclones, which usually do not push so far south.
“This is a rare weather event for people in southern and eastern parts of WA,” the Bureau of Meteorology said.
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The death toll of Cyclone Seroja in Indonesia’s East Nusa Tenggara province rose to 179 and 45 others are still missing, an official said on Monday.
“We have been able to reach all the affected areas and there are no more isolated villages,” East Nusa Tenggara’s Deputy Governor Josef Nae Soi told a virtual press conference with the National Disaster Management Agency.
Soi said several broken bridges have not yet been rebuilt, hampering economic activities.
He said temporary solutions including using army ships and state-owned ferries have been suggested.
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A tornado ripped through a portion of Louisiana early Saturday morning causing extensive damage and leaving at least one person dead and seven others injured, officials said.
Seven people were taken to hospitals and multiple other victims were treated on scene, KLFY reported. Search and rescue crews were still assessing the area for other victims.
The storm caused extensive damage to homes and vehicles. A trailer from a truck was in the middle of a road and other vehicles were flipped over, KLFY reported.
Jose Antonio Higareda, 27, was killed when the tornado hit the home where he was living with 130 to 140 mph winds, The Advocate reported.
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