Maharashtra and Gujarat bear the fury of Cyclone Nisarga

Cyclone Nisarga, which intensified into a severe cyclonic storm in the Arabian Sea, made landfall along India’s western coast, forcing evacuation of tens of thousands of people, as heavy rain lashed Mumbai and its suburbs. The rare storm made a thumping landfall at Shriwardhan-Dive Agar in Raigad district, hitting coastal Gujurat and Maharashtra with full fury.

Many dwellings along the coastal areas are not structurally sound to withstand a storm of this magnitude. Initial assessments have placed the number of homes either partially or completely destroyed  at over 500,000, with more than 3 million people affected.

More than 30 teams from the National Disaster Response Force have been deployed to Maharashtra and Gujarat. These two states are also currently the COVID-19 hotspots states in India.

Nisarga dropped heavy rains and winds gusting up to 120km/h as a category 4 cyclone near the coastal city of Alibagh, about 98km (60 miles) south of Mumbai, the capital of Maharashtra state and home to more than 18 million people.

Over 100,000 people, including Coronavirus patients, left destitute

The storm came as the Indian region grapples with the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic. Maharashtra and Gujarat states have reported about 44 percent of India’s more than 200,000 Covid-19 cases nationwide, and 61 percent of all virus deaths. More than 100,000 people, including Coronavirus patients, needed to be moved to safer locations.

Islamic Relief India is part of the Inter-Agency Steering Committee, which conducted the initial rapid needs assessment. While the first phase of the emergency response focused on evacuations and relief, our team is preparing and planning for the recovery efforts in the wake of the devastating storm. The NDRF has mobilised 32 teams, and a total of 1,500 personnel are on standby in the two states to help.

The impact of the cyclone was localised in the Raigad district in Maharashtra, which is the ancestral home to many South Africans of Indian descent.

Immediate needs are for food, temporary shelter, and agricultural support. Islamic Relief South Africa has pledged an initial contribution of R2million from our Global Emergencies Fund to assist with immediate relief efforts in the region.

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