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Cyclone Tauktae kills 21 in India

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At least 21 people have been killed and nearly 100 others are missing after a monster cyclone slammed into western India, compounding the misery for millions of others who are enduring a devastating coronavirus surge.

Hundreds of thousands of people were without power after Cyclone Tauktae, one of a growing number of increasingly severe storms in the Arabian Sea blamed on climate change, hammered the Gujarat coast on Monday evening.

The cyclone packed gusts of up to 185 kilometres (115 miles) per hour, uprooting trees and knocking down power lines and mobile phone towers as it barrelled inland while weakening slightly.

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One support vessel serving oil rigs that were hit by immense waves off the coast of Mumbai sank and 96 of the 273 people who had been on board were missing, the Indian Navy said on Tuesday.

Al Jazeera’s Pavni Mittal, reporting from New Delhi, said the colossal cyclone – the biggest to hit the region in decades – has claimed at least 21 lives as savage winds swept through flimsy homes and uprooted trees and electricity pylons.

Although the cyclone was one of the fiercest to hit the area, better forecasting than in recent years allowed for strong preparations and more than 200,000 people in danger zones were evacuated from their homes.

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Mumbai authorities on Monday closed the airport for several hours and urged people to stay indoors as huge waves battered the city’s seafront.

The deadly weather system has hindered India’s embattled response to a coronavirus surge that is killing at least 4,000 people daily and pushing the health system to breaking point.—Al Jazeera

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