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With Covid-19 Still Surging, India Braces for Cyclone Impact

Cyclone Tauktae, churning in the Arabian Sea, is the first cyclone of the season.

Cyclone Tauktae swirls in the Arabian Sea off the western coast of India on Monday. The storm is expected to make landfall Tuesday, and brings complications to a region already experiencing significant impacts from the pandemic. (CIRA/RAMMB)
Cyclone Tauktae swirls in the Arabian Sea off the western coast of India on Monday. The storm is expected to make landfall Tuesday, and brings complications to a region already experiencing significant impacts from the pandemic. (CIRA/RAMMB)

Communities on India’s west coast readied for landfall of the season’s first cyclone, all at a time when the country is in the midst of the world’s largest Covid case surge.

Cyclone Tauktae, churning in the Arabian Sea, is expected to make landfall Tuesday in Gujarat, where the storm’s worst impacts could be concentrated. On Monday, the storm recorded sustained wind speeds of 115 miles per hour, equivalent to a Category 3 hurricane. Large scale evacuations are underway, with tens of thousands urged to leave low-lying areas along India’s western coast, and more evacuations expected in the coming days.

Heavy rains preceded the storm, and deluged communities with up to 8 inches of rain in some areas. Though Covid-19 cases are declining in the country, more than 280,000 cases were recorded on May 16 alone. More than 8,000 of those cases were recorded in Gujarat, where the cyclone could make landfall.

Direct Relief is supporting hospitals in and around Mumbai on India’s west coast as part of the COVID response. This support includes FedEx’s first charter that transported more than 3,400 oxygen concentrators and other supplies that have since been distributed by Tata Memorial Centre in Mumbai to a network of facilities.

Direct Relief is in communication with partner health facilities in the affected areas, and will remain in touch with additional health facilities in Gujarat in case emergency support is needed.

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