Mumbai may escape Cyclone Nisarga’s fury by a whisker

Mumbai: Mumbai looked set to escape the fury of Cyclone Nisarga which made a thumping wet landfall at Shriwardhan-Dive Agar in Maharashtra’s Raigad on Wedesday afternoon, officials indicated.

As per the latest India Meteorological Department bulletin, the cyclone which was expected to move towards Mumbai-Thane-Palghar, has apparently veered off to the east and moving towards Pune.

“Nisarga lay centred over coastal Maharashtra, close to east-southeast of Alibaug, 75 kms south-east of Mumbai (Colaba) and 65 kms west of Pune. Current intensity (near center) 90-100 kmph gusting to 110 kmph,” said the IMD.

From the changed direction, the cyclone is likely to head towards Nashik, Jalgaon and then onto Madhya Pradesh, officials said, even as Nisarga seemed to have missed the state capital by a whisker.

“The eye of the storm is around 60 km away, it has hit Raigad district at a speed of over 100 kmph. Now, it is proceedings towards Uran,” said Ratnagiri Collector Nidhi Choudhari soon after the landfall.

However, barring three persons sustaining minor injuries when a tin roof blew off in Santacruz, there are no reports of any casualties so far.

The collateral damage include scores of uprooted trees, several vehicles getting crushed in Mumbai and other parts of the Konkan, electric or power poles getting knocked down or roofs blowing away as people remained crouched indoors.

Several hours before the landfall, Nisarga had already announced its impending arrival with heavy rains or showers in the entire coastal region – Palghar, Thane, Mumbai, Raigad, Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg – accompanied by strong gales of upto 60-70 km per hour speed since Wednesday morning.

As a precautionary measure, over 13,000 people were evacuated in Raigad, some 2,000 in Mumbai and some more in Ratnagiri, Thane and Palghar, mostly from low-lying or risk-prone areas, and those living in ‘kuchha’ structures.

Big and small trees were uprooted and crashed in south Mumbai’s Colaba and Churchgate crushing at least two vehicles, while heavy waves lashed the jetties at Gateway of India, Bhaucha Dhakka, and popular beaches at Girgaum Chowpatty, Dadar, Juhu, Versova, Madh, Marve, Gorai on the city’s west coast.

At least 10 crew members stranded aboard a merchant ship – which was tossed in the waves and ran aground near Mirkawada fishing village in Ratnagiri – were safely rescued by local fishermen and Indian Coast Guard.

Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, along with other ministers and officials, continuously monitored the unfolding cyclonic situation while Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar called up all coastal District Collectors and sought ground reports from them.

Rescue teams of NDRF and SDRF, besides army, navy, air force, coast guard, police, fire brigade, along with expert divers were on standby at various points in Mumbai to handle any flood like situation.

Maharashtra Fishermen’s Association President Damodar Tandel said that many fishing villages on the entire coastal belt have suffered huge damages due to the storm.

“As per the latest information, most of our fishing boats were moored safely since the past couple of days, but the real damage will be known only after the stormy weather recedes. There are no reports of any casualties or missing fisherfolk,” Tandel told IANS.

The IMD has already declared a Red Alert for Raigad, Mumbai, Thane, Palghar, Nashik, Dhule and Nandurbar – which is the expected path of Cyclone Nisarga on its land odyssey.

Due to overnight rains, several low-lying and coastal areas of Mumbai and Thane, besides other districts experience inundation, but there were no disruptions as most people kept off roads in their homes.

Following a runway excursion by a FedEx cargo aircraft on the Mumbai International Airport Ltd.’s secondary runway, and owing to inclement weather conditions, the airport suspended all flight from 2.30-6 p.m.

Several long-distance trains on the Central Railway and Western Railway had been rescheduled to avoid the cyclone.

With strict police deployment in the city and its beaches, most Mumbaikars had chosen to remain indoors, catching the real-life cyclone drama on their television sets.

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