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.


Four die in UK chemical tank blast: Police

Updated 03 December 2020

Four die in UK chemical tank blast: Police

  • Avon and Somerset Police Chief Inspector said the incident was not terror-related
  • The explosion at the plant operated by Wessex Water occurred in a silo that holds treated bio-solids before they are recycled as organic soil conditioners

LONDON: Four people died on Thursday when a chemical tank exploded at a waste water treatment plant in western England, police said.
"We can confirm there have been four fatalities," Avon and Somerset Police Chief Inspector Mark Runacres said after the explosion at the plant at Avonmouth, near Bristol.
A fifth person was injured but their injuries were not said to be life-threatening, he added.
Police said they would not be speculating on the cause of the explosion but added it was not being treated as terror related.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted that he was "deeply saddened to learn that four people have lost their lives".
"Our hearts go out to the victims and their families. Thank you to the emergency services who attended the scene," he added.
The explosion at the plant operated by Wessex Water occurred in a silo that holds treated bio-solids before they are recycled as organic soil conditioners, added Runacres.
Witness Jawad Burhan said there was a "helicopter looking for missing people" and police closed a nearby road leading up to the plant.
"I heard the sound, I'm working beside the building in another warehouse. After 10 minutes I saw the helicopter coming and the police," he said.
Another witness, Kieran Jenkins, told the BBC he was in a nearby warehouse when the explosion occurred, saying it was "shaking and we literally stood there in shock.
"Next thing you know we looked out of the windows and all we could see was people running.
"We don't know what happened. It was a bit of a shock really. I heard a bang... we didn't know what was going on."
An investigation has been launched into the blast with the Health and Safety Executive.