Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray today appealed to the people of Mumbai to "stay indoors" as Cyclone Nisarga has been forecast by the weather office to make landfall in the state's coast tomorrow.
The cyclone that formed due to a low pressure area in the Arabian Sea comes at a time when the state with the highest number of coronavirus cases in India has been struggling to deal with an overburdened healthcare infrastructure. Any damage left in the wake of the cyclone will add more stress and could complicate the fight against COVID-19.
The Chief Minister asked the residents of Mumbai to be prepared to face possible power cuts as strong winds hit the city. He asked them to charge their gadgets and if possible, keep emergency lights handy.
"The cyclone could be more severe than the ones the state has faced till now... Tomorrow and the day after are crucial in coastal areas... Activities which had resumed (as part of easing of lockdown) will be kept shut there for the next two days, people should remain alert," Mr Thackeray said.
Cyclone Nisarga, the first to strike near Mumbai in over 100 years, is expected to make landfall expected tomorrow afternoon.
The India Meteorological Department or IMD said Nisarga is likely to intensify into a "severe cyclonic storm" with heavy rainfall and wind speeds in excess of 100 km per hour over the next 12 hours.
Over 10,000 people, including some coronavirus patients, have been moved to safer locations. Mumbai has over 41,000 coronavirus cases. Its suburbs and neighbouring Thane, Palghar, Raigad, Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg have been placed on high alert due to the incoming cyclone.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has spoken with Mr Thackeray, the Chief Minister of Gujarat and the administrator of Daman and Diu, and Dadra and Nagar Haveli to assure support from the centre.
Mumbai airport in a statement said it has kept electric generators ready to provide uninterrupted power and water pumps have been installed across the airport to prevent flooding.
The airport said food and beverage counters will stay open 24x7 at the airport for convenience of passengers.