Cyclone Nisarga, which intensified into a severe cyclonic storm in the Arabian Sea, is making landfall along India’s western coast, forcing a high alert in the financial hub of Mumbai and evacuation of tens of thousands of people.
“[The] landfall process started and it will be completed during the next three hours. The northeast sector of the eye of the severe cyclonic storm Nisarga is entering into the land,” India’s meteorological department said on Wednesday.
Nisarga dropped heavy rains and winds gusting up to 120km (75 miles) per hour as a category 4 cyclone near the coastal city of Alibagh, about 98km (60 miles) south of Mumbai, the capital of Maharashtra state and home to more than 18 million people.
At least 100,000 people, including coronavirus patients, were moved to safer locations, according to officials. The storm surge threatened to flood beaches and low-lying slums as city authorities struggle to contain the pandemic.
Live TV coverage showed inky black clouds framing the sea on India’s western coastline. Trees swayed wildly, as the rain pounded the coastal towns and villages of Maharashtra.
In Mumbai, the home of Bollywood and India’s largest stock exchange, high winds whipped skyscrapers and ripped apart shanty houses near the beach.
Reporting from New Delhi, Al Jazeera’s Elizabeth Puranam said there are many dwellings along the coastal areas which are not structurally sound to withstand the storm.