POST TIME: 3 June, 2020 02:05:28 PM / LAST MODIFIED: 3 June, 2020 04:01:38 PM
Cyclone Nisarga makes landfall on its way to Mumbai
Independent Online/BBC

Cyclone Nisarga makes landfall on its way to Mumbai

Fishing boats anchored in Mumbai, having been told not to venture out. EPA

A cyclone racing in from the Arabian Sea has struck India's west coast after intensifying on its approach to the densely populated city of Mumbai.

Cyclone Nisarga will be the first major cyclone to make landfall in India's financial capital in decades.

Tens of thousands of people on the coast have been moved to higher ground.

With 20 million people, Mumbai is India's most populous city and has already been badly hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

The cyclone began making landfall around 100km (60 miles) south of Mumbai at about 14:30 local time (08:30GMT).

BBC Marathi's Janhavee Moole says it has been raining since Tuesday and the skies are ominously dark.

"I can see the trees shaking violently. All beaches in the city are closed to the public and a police patrol van is making announcements, asking people to stay indoors. All safety precautions possible are being taken, but I do feel worried because the city is also in the grip of a pandemic," our correspondent adds.

Earlier, the Indian Meteorological Department said the cyclone had intensified into a "severe cyclonic storm". They later said the cyclone had speeded up, and was moving at around 13km/h.

With more than 40,000 confirmed virus cases, and almost 1,400 deaths, Mumbai is the city worst-affected by coronavirus in India.

The tens of thousands of people evacuated before the cyclone included 150 patients from a recently-built Covid-19 field hospital.

The local government said people living in flimsy homes near the shore were being moved. The coast guard said it had taken 109 fishermen in 18 boats to safety.

The government urged people to secure their homes, prepare an emergency kit, and keep documents and valuables in water-proof containers.

The storm comes barely two weeks after Cyclone Amphan hit India's east coast.

At least 96 people were killed by Amphan in both eastern India and Bangladesh.