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Cyclone Tauktae: Mumbai shuts airport as city faces heavy rainfall, rescue teams alert

New Delhi: Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport has issued an order stating that the operations at the airport shall remain closed from 11 am to 2 pm today in view of Cyclone Tauktae. “Due to cyclone alert, Mumbai Airport operations need to be closed from 1100 hours to 1400 hours of May 17,” informed Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL) on Monday (May 17, 2021). 

In account of  Cyclone Tauktae, a heavy downpour accompanied by gusty winds was witnessed today in Mumbai. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has also issued an order stating that the “Bandra-Worli sea link in Mumbai will also be closed for commuters till further notice due to heavy wind speed triggered due to the effect of Cyclone Tauktae.” The commuters have been asked to take alternative routes to their destinations. 

The IMD had also informed the BMC that Mumbai is not in the direct line of the threat of the cyclone. However, as it will pass through the sea near the Mumbai coast, its effect is likely to be accompanied by rain and strong winds.

The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has also issued an orange alert for Mumbai warning of very heavy rains at isolated places with strong winds on Monday as the  Cyclone Tauktae is likely to move towards Gujarat. 

Additionally, three teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) are stationed in Mumbai. Numerous rescue teams, including Indian Navy, have been put on high alert. 

“Six teams of the Mumbai fire brigade’s flood rescue unit are deployed on six beaches in the city. Five temporary shelters each are put up in 24 civic wards of the metropolis so that citizens can be shifted there if necessary,” a senior civic official said.

Another official said over 500 of the 580 patients have been shifted to other COVID-19 hospitals from ICUs of jumbo Covid centres till 10 pm on Sunday.

“The shifting of the patients started on Saturday night and it went on throughout the day and night (on Sunday) since last night,” a Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) spokesperson said.

According to IMD officials, the very severe cyclonic storm over the east-central Arabian sea moved north-northwest with a speed of about 19 kmph and lay centred at 5.30 hours on Sunday.

“It is very likely to intensify further in the next 24-hours. It is very likely to move north-northwestwards and reach Gujarat coast in the evening hours of May17 and cross Gujarat coast between Porbandar and Mahuva (Bhavnagar district) around May 18 early morning,” an official said.

The BMC had on Friday alerted city hospitals to avoid last-minute confusion over beds and availability of oxygen devices.

The IMD had said the storm is likely to pass the Mumbai coast late Saturday or early Sunday from a distance, so minimal damage is expected. It will, however, cause gusty winds and heavy rain in a few places in Mumbai, Thane and Palghar.

The civic body has suspended the vaccination programme on Monday due to the cyclone warning.

(With agency inputs)