WMFE is Central Florida's primary provider of NPR programming on 90.7 FM and Classical Music on 90.7 HD2. Part of the community since 1965, WMFE focuses on providing quality national and local news and programming. We inspire and empower all Central Floridians to discover, grow and engage within and beyond their world.
Support for 90.7 WMFE is provided by

Cyclone Hits India On Deadliest Day Of Pandemic


Play Audio

A policeman helps a public transport driver to cross a flooded street due to heavy rain caused by cyclone Tauktae in Mumbai.
Image credit: Ashish Vaishnav


MUMBAI — India can’t catch a break.

On the same day the country confirmed its highest-ever daily death toll from COVID-19, it was also hit by a deadly storm. Cyclone Tauktae barreled into India’s west coast overnight, packing wind gusts of up to 130 miles per hour – some of the strongest on record – before weakening over land later Tuesday.

Crews in orange hazmat suits patrolled coastal areas with megaphones, urging hundreds of thousands of residents to move to higher ground. More than 200,000 people were evacuated from their homes in the western state of Gujarat. Hundreds of COVID-19 patients were also shifted from coastal wards in Mumbai, to other hospitals farther inland.

Cyclones are more common on India’s east coast, over the Bay of Bengal. But forecasters say climate patterns are changing, and this one hit several states on India’s west coast, along the Arabian Sea: Kerala, Karnataka, Goa, Maharashtra, Gujarat. It was the fiercest storm to hit that region in decades.

At least 16 people were killed by flying debris, building collapses and flooding. A search and rescue operation is underway for dozens of barge workers missing off Mumbai’s coast.

At least 177 workers have been rescued by Indian Navy helicopters in “extremely challenging circumstances,” the Navy tweeted.

Coastal slums are flooded, and electricity lines down. Relief efforts have been complicated by coronavirus lockdowns.

“You have to evacuate [people] in a certain way, because you do not want COVID infections on your hands post-cyclone,” India’s disaster relief chief, Satya Pradhan, told local media.

One of the biggest concerns remains ensuring a constant electricity supply to COVID hospitals and industrial plants generating and bottling medical oxygen.

Tauktae weakened into a “severe cyclonic storm” on Tuesday afternoon, India’s Meteorological Department tweeted.

Also Tuesday, India’s Health confirmed 4,329 deaths from COVID-19 – the country’s deadliest single-day toll since the pandemic began. It also confirmed 263,533 new coronavirus cases, down from more than 400,000 a day earlier this month.

Scientists say those tallies are likely vast undercounts, and that it’s unclear when India’s wave may peak, because testing is so low in rural areas.

NPR producer Sushmita Pathak contributed to this report from Hyderabad, India.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Get The 90.7 WMFE Newsletter

Your trusted news source for the latest Central Florida news, updates on special programs and more.

GET THE LATEST
Stay tuned in to our local news coverage: Listen to 90.7 WMFE on your FM or HD radio, the WMFE mobile app or your smart speaker — say “Alexa, play NPR” and you’ll be connected.

WMFE Journalistic Ethics Code | Public Media Code of Integrity

TOP