As India continues to desperately treat COVID patients, the Southeast Asian country was unfortunately slammed by some seriously fatal weather. Indian Cyclone Tauktae has taken many innocent people's lives, and although the storm has since weakened, communities across the nation are still recovering from the massive amounts of rain, flooding, and wind that tore through on Monday, May 17.
"This cyclone is a terrible double blow for millions of people in India whose families have been struck down by record COVID infections and deaths," said Udaya Regmi, who is South Asia's head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, in a press release. “The potential impacts of Cyclone Tauktae are frightening as this monster storm threatens the state of Gujarat. Every effort must continue to keep people safe from this dangerous storm and the raging pandemic.”
Cyclone Tauktee is currently wreaking havoc on communities throughout India.
India is suffering from what's considered to be the strongest recorded storm to hit India’s west coast, according to CNN. After blowing through Gujarat on Monday night at about 125 miles per hour, it softened to an "extremely severe cyclonic storm" and then a "severe cyclonic storm" by the next morning. However, it's continued to flood highways with rain, knock over trees and power lines, and flood coastlines with gnarly waves.
Meanwhile, as previously mentioned, India is recovering from a second COVID wave that's killed thousands since March 2021. The country is rushing to treat patients, while they run out of hospital beds, PPE, and oxygen tanks. Patients in low-lying areas were evacuated during the storm to makeshift care centers and hospitals on higher grounds. Power at 100 care centers across Gujarat were disrupted, and although all have backup generators, four of them failed. Authorities are now working to fix them.
Indian Cyclone Tauktae's death toll is astronomical, alongside many COVID deaths.
As of Tuesday, May 18, it was estimated that Cyclone Tauktae had killed about 25 people across various west coast communities in India, according to Indian Express. Many of these fatalities were unfortunately caused by drowning, houses collapsing, lightning, and other various weather-related incidents. Residents in low-lying areas have been alerted to stay on higher ground until further notice, as over 16,000 houses in Gujarat alone sustained severe damage. The amount of damage will be fully evaluated once the storm subsides.
The storm also caused a massive barge to sink just off the coast of Mumbai in an oilfield, according to The Weather Channel. The Indian military was deployed to bring those on the barge to safety, and ended up rescuing a total of 177 people. About 22 additional bodies were sadly removed from the Arabian Sea on Wednesday, however, which raised the death toll to about 45.
Hopefully, communities across India make a quick recovery, though there may be more disasters to come with monsoon season around the corner. That said, the people of western India are in our thoughts.