At least 16 killed as most powerful cyclone in 20 years hits India.

More than 200,000 people were evacuated from their homes in the Indian state of Gujarat as the most powerful cyclone in more than two decades made landfall late on Monday.

Rain intensified and several incidents of power outages were reported in the state. Electricity pylons and trees were uprooted and buildings were damaged in coastal areas of Gujarat, state authorities said, with gusts of up to 210km/h recorded. Authorities shut ports and major airports to prepare for cyclone Tauktae.

Tauktae will weaken to a severe cyclonic storm in the next few hours, the Indian meteorological department said in its latest bulletin, from a “very severe” storm.

The cyclone has already killed at least 16 people and left a trail of destruction as it brushed past the coastal states of Kerala, Karnataka, Goa and Maharashtra, the authorities said.

The Indian navy said it had rescued 146 people from one of two barges that were adrift near the Mumbai coastline, adding that surveillance planes and helicopters had been deployed to scour the seas.

The storm piles more pressure on Indian authorities already struggling with a staggering caseload of Covid-19 infections.

Authorities are concerned about disruptions to the transportation of medical oxygen to hospitals due to the storm.

“Our priority is to clear the roads, so there is no impact on oxygen movement,” said Gaurang Makwana, the top official of Bhavnagar district in Gujarat. – Reuters

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