Four people died and as many were injured in cyclone-related incidents as cyclone 'Nisarga' made landfall near Mumbai, uprooting trees in nearby districts on Wednesday, with the weather department predicting heavy rains in isolated places on Nashik and Palghar on Thursday. Though no rainfall and gusty winds have been predicted for Mumbai, fisherfolks are advised to not venture in the sea as the waters are still rough.
The cyclone slammed the Maharashtra coast with wind speeds of up to 120 kmph, making landfall at 12.30pm at Alibaug near Mumbai. The process was completed by 2.30pm, said a senior official of the India Meteorological Department (IMD).
A 58-year-old man died when an electricity pole fell on him in Alibaug area, said Raigah District Collector Nidhi Choudhari. A 65-year-old woman called Manjabai Anant Navale, a resident of Vahagaon village in Khed tehsil, died as a wall of her house collapsed and tin sheets on the roof were blown away in the wind. In the third incident, 52-year-old Prakash Mokar, a resident of Mokarwadi in Haveli tehsil, also died after the roof of his house was blown away and he was injured while trying to catch the tin sheets. The fourth victim was a 10-year-old boy who died in Alibaug when a tree fell on him.
Mumbaikars and people in the neighbouring areas, including those in coastal Gujarat districts, had braced for the cyclone but heaved a sigh of relief as Nisarga's damage appeared limited to the uprooting of trees in affected areas. It did not cause any major damage on the southern coast of Gujarat following landfall and passed without any major incidents and casualties, said the state relief commissioner.
Alibaug witnessed wind speeds of up to 120 kilometres per hour. Although the cyclone made the landfall just 95 kilometres from Mumbai, the metropolitan city largely escaped its wrath.
"There was a slight change of direction towards north-eastwards which meant the impact of the cyclone on Mumbai was less severe than originally expected," said the IMD.
Mumbai witnessed moderate rainfall throughout the afternoon. The wind speed was 26 kilometres per hour. The weather began to clear towards the evening, the IMD said.
By 4pm, the cyclone had started weakening with wind speeds of 90-100 kilometres per hour. It further weakened into a deep depression by 9pm. Its intensity also reduced considerably with a wind speed of 25 kilometres per hour.
The storm currently lays over north central Maharashtra, more than 40 kilometres south of Nashik, 140 kilometres west-southwest of Aurangabad and 120 kilometres north-northeast of Pune, a 9pm IMD bulletin said.
Madhya Pradesh on alert
Authorities in Indore and Ujjain divisions in western Madhya Pradesh have been asked to be prepared to deal with the impact of the cyclone that is likely to hit the state on Thursday, said an IMD official. It is likely to enter Khandwa, Khargone and Burhanpur districts in the state between 7am and 11am on Thursday.
Rains have already been reported from some places of the state due to the impact of the cyclonic storm, said the official.
The weather condition is likely to affect Indore and Ujjain divisions for the next two to three days, he said, adding some places may witness thunderstorms with heavy rains and lightning during this period. Strong winds ranging from 50 to 60 kmph are expected in some areas in the western part of the state, the official said.
NDRF teams to remain put
While National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) chief SN Pradhan said the "worst is over", the central agency's teams will remain deployed and assist state authorities in recovery work.
"Whatever damage has happened has been generally limited to Raigad district and its talukas," said Pradhan. "Overall, the worst has passed and the cyclone situation was well negotiated because of timely preparations and coordination between central and state authorities."
Pradhan said about one lakh people were evacuated from the affected areas. The NDRF had deployed 43 teams in the two states -- an NDRF team has about 45 personnel each and they are equipped with pole and tree cutters, portable communication equipment, satellite phones and basic medical kits.
The NDRF had deployed 20 teams in Maharashtra -- one in Sindhudurg; two each in Ratnagiri, Thane and Palghar; five in Raigad; and eight in Mumbai. One team was reserved at the NDRF base in Pune.
In Gujarat, the force has deployed 16 teams -- one each in Gandhi Nagar, Bharuch, Amreli, Gir Somnath, Anand, Bhav Nagar and Kheda; two in Navsari; three in Surat; and four in Valsad. Two teams are kept as reserves at Vadodara.
Two teams each have been deployed in Daman (Daman and Diu) and Silvassa (Dadra & Nagar Haveli).
'Maharashtra showed nerve'
Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said the resilience showed by people and officials helped in "mitigating the intensity" of the cyclone, adding losses have been reported from coastal Konkan and some other regions. He said orders have been issued to carry out spot inspections to assess the damages caused.
"The unity exhibited by the people will help bring Maharashtra out of all crises," Thackeray said in a statement. He also expressed grief over the deaths reported from the state due to the cyclone-related incidents.
"Thanking all who protected Maharashtra along with Mumbai in the face of the Nisarga cyclone which had hovered over Maharashtra at a time when the state is already grappling with COVID-19. But we all warded it (the cyclone crisis) off. The people and administration fought hard and mitigated the intensity of the crisis," he said.
(With inputs from PTI)