Kolkata, India: In the aftermath of a massive storm, 89 people remained missing in India on Wednesday, and hundreds of others were without power, adding to the country’s difficulties as it experienced a record number of Covid-19 deaths.
Cyclone Tauktae, which hit the western coast late Tuesday, was the latest in a series of ever-larger storms in the Arabian Sea as a result of climate change warming its waters, according to experts.
After waves up to eight meters (26 feet) high slammed offshore oil installations, the defense ministry announced Wednesday that Navy ships had rescued more than 600 people.
The demonic storm reduced into a depression after making landfall in the Western state of Gujrat.
However, planes and helicopters were still searching for 89 personnel who had gone missing after one of four support vessels sank after slipping its moorings in the storm.
The sea was so turbulent, according to M.K. Jha, director of the Naval Western Command, that they couldn’t board life rafts.
“They have optimism in their eyes, but they are clearly distressed,” Jha told NDTV. “They have been pounded by the sea conditions for numerous hours.”
Heavy rains and strong winds killed over 20 people in western and southern India before the storm made landfall in Gujarat state with gusts of up to 185 kilometers per hour.
A kid was crushed by a collapsing wall, an 80-year-old woman was murdered by a falling pole, and a teenage girl was murdered by a failing roof once it hit.
“I have never experienced such intensity in my life,” said a hotel owner in the town of Bhavnagar where the winds smashed windows on the seafront and sent trees and power lines toppling.
Over 16,500 homes were destroyed, 40,000 trees were uprooted, and roughly 6,000 towns were left without power.
On Wednesday, power was restored to roughly 2,100 settlements, but hundreds of thousands of people were still without it.
Despite the fact that the typhoon was one of the most powerful in decades, better forecasting than in prior disasters allowed 200,000 people in risk zones to be evacuated, including hundreds of Covid-19 patients.
The catastrophic weather system struck as India’s healthcare system battled a coronavirus outbreak that claimed the lives of 4,529 individuals in just 24 hours.
“This is one of the most powerful cyclones we’ve faced in India for decades, and after weeks of chaos and devastating loss of life caused by Covid-19, it could not have come at a worse time,” said Santanu Chakraborty of the charity Save the Children.
“Thousands of children and their families have lost their homes and their livelihoods, and the damage caused to roads and infrastructure will put even more pressure on local administrations already struggling to cope with the fallout from the pandemic.”
The Arabian Sea previously experienced fewer severe cyclones than the Bay of Bengal but rising water temperatures because of global warming were changing that, Roxy Mathew Koll from the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology told AFP.
COVER IMAGE COURTESY OF INDIAN COASTGUARD VIA TWITTER