Virus-hit Mumbai survives cyclone scare

Marine Drive wears a deserted look before cyclone Nisarga makes landfall in Mumbai, India, Wednesday, June 3, 2020. (AP)
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Updated 04 June 2020

Virus-hit Mumbai survives cyclone scare

  • Early preparations save city from catastrophe, officials say

NEW DELHI: A severe cyclone hit India’s commercial hub Mumbai on Wednesday, bringing the city to a standstill with transport and flights suspended for several hours, and more than 50,000 people evacuated from low-lying coastal areas of the city. 

Earlier, experts described cyclone Nisarga as the first severe storm to threaten India’s financial capital in more than 70 years.

Fearing the worst, residents took precautions early on.

“Last night we were asked to move to a nearby school away from the sea because of the cyclone,” a Mumbai-based fisherman told Arab News. 

The cyclone came at a time when the western state of Maharashtra, whose capital is Mumbai, is in the grip of the coronavirus outbreak. The state accounts for more than 70,000 COVID-19 cases out of India’s total of 201,000. 

It was a challenge for municipal authorities to safeguard and move thousands of people to temporary accommodation and maintain social distancing restrictions.

“We are alert to the coronavirus crisis and decided to test every evacuee,” Milind Dilip Kumar, deputy spokesperson for the Greater Mumbai corporation,  told Arab News. 

Authorities also moved a temporary quarantine center to a safer location to protect people from the cyclone. 

“Around 220 people were living in a makeshift quarantine center in the Worli Kurla area of the city, and since it was closer to sea we decided to shift them to a safer location,” Kumar added. 

Meanwhile, cyclone Nisarga, which was supposed to hit the capital and adjoining area with “unusual force,” changed its direction, saving the city from havoc. 

“The cyclone has weakened and skirted the city. There would be only mild wind and some rain," K. J. Ramesh, director general of the Indian meteorological department, told Arab News. 

Mumbai, home to 20 million people, is one of the worst coronavirus-affected cities in India with more than 1,000 recorded deaths.

Medical professionals say that, had the cyclone hit with full impact, it would have been a "double whammy.”

“The city was already overstretched with most government hospitals already in bad shape because of the overflowing COVID-19 cases. Had the cyclone created havoc the city could not have coped with this extra burden,” a medical professional working with a government hospital in Mumbai told Arab News. 

Mumbai resident Madhu Nainan feels a sense of relief that the cyclone missed the city.

“The city was already besieged by a crisis, and if the cyclone had created the same kind of damage as the cyclone Amphan did in (the eastern Indian state) of Bengal a couple of weeks ago, it would have been a double whammy for Mumbai,” Nainan told Arab News.


Knifeman kills three in suspected terror attack at French church in Nice

Updated 2 min 37 sec ago

Knifeman kills three in suspected terror attack at French church in Nice

  • Two victims died at the Basilica of Notre-Dame while a third person died of injuries
  • Macron called for churches around the country to be given added security

NICE: A man wielding a knife at a church in the French city of Nice killed three people, slitting the throat of at least one, and injured several others before being apprehended by police, officials said Thursday.
French anti-terror prosecutors have opened an inquiry into what the city’s Mayor Christian Estrosi called an “Islamo-fascist attack.”
“He (the attacker) kept repeating ‘Allahu Akbar’ (God is Greater) even while under medication” after he was injured during his arrest, Estrosi told journalists at the scene.NIC

Video footage shows police entering the church in Nice where the attack is thought to have been carried out. (Twitter)

Two victims died at the Basilica of Notre-Dame, in the heart of the city on the Mediterranean coast, while a third person died of injuries after seeking refuge in a nearby bar, a police source told AFP.
“The situation is now under control,” police spokeswoman Florence Gavello said.
France has been on high alert for terror attacks since the January 2015 massacre at the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo. The trial of suspected accomplices in that attack is underway in Paris. 

 

There have been unconfirmed reports that at least one of the victims was decapitated. (Twitter)

In Nice in particular, painful memories remain fresh of the jihadist attack during the Bastille Day fireworks on July 14, 2016, when a man rammed his truck into a crowded promenade, killing 86 people.
It was part of a wave of attacks on French soil, often by so-called “lone wolf” assailants, which has killed more than 250 people since 2015.

The attacker was captured by police and taken to hospital. (Twitter)

The assault prompted lawmakers in parliament to hold a minute’s silence on Thursday, before Prime Minister Jean Castex and other ministers abruptly left for an emergency meeting with President Emmanuel Macron.
Estrosi, who said Macron would soon be arriving in Nice, called for churches around the country to be given added security or to be closed as a precaution.