Tens of thousands evacuated as India braces for cyclone

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People stand on a rock while waves lashes over at Kovalam beach as cyclone Nivar approaches the eastern Indian coast, in Chennai on November 24, 2020. (AFP)
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A women walks under an umbrella during heavy rains as cyclone Nivar approaches the eastern Indian coast, in Chennai on November 24, 2020. (AFP)
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A motorist rides along a street under heavy rains in Chennai as cyclone Nivar approaches the southeastern coast of the country on November 25, 2020. (AFP)
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People use plastic sheets to cover from heavy rains in Chennai as cyclone Nivar approaches the southeastern coast of the country on November 25, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 25 November 2020

Tens of thousands evacuated as India braces for cyclone

  • The storm, with sustained winds of 120 kilometers (75 miles) per hour and gusts of up to 145 kph (90 mph), is likely to damage crops, trees and houses
  • State governments were expecting widespread damage and canceled flights and trains as a precaution

NEW DELHI: Tens of thousands of people fled their homes in low-lying areas of southern India and moved to evacuation shelters on Wednesday to escape a cyclone that was barreling toward the region’s coast.
Cyclone Nivar is expected to bring heavy downpours after slamming ashore near Mamallapuram and Karaikal in Tamil Nadu state, the Meteorological Department said.
The storm, with sustained winds of 120 kilometers (75 miles) per hour and gusts of up to 145 kph (90 mph), is likely to damage crops, trees, houses and electrical poles, it said in a statement.
S.N. Pradhan, director of India’s National Disaster Response Force, said thousands of emergency personnel have been deployed in coastal regions of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Puducherry states, where the cyclone was expected to hit Wednesday night.
State governments were expecting widespread damage and canceled flights and trains as a precaution.
In Tamil Nadu’s capital, Chennai, authorities said they are closely monitoring the level of reservoirs and lakes to avoid a repeat of floods in 2015, when nearly 430 people died in the state. Flights at Chennai Airport will remain suspended until Thursday morning.
In Puducherry, top official Kiran Bedi appealed to residents to move to higher areas and stay indoors.
“Move to high places wherever you have to. There are relief centers. Please move there,” Bedi said in a video message on Twitter.
In May, nearly 100 people died after Cyclone Amphan, the most powerful storm to hit eastern India in more than a decade, ravaged the region and left millions without power.


WHO warns ‘too early to ease up’ from COVID-19 lockdowns in Europe

Updated 35 min 52 sec ago

WHO warns ‘too early to ease up’ from COVID-19 lockdowns in Europe

  • ‘We need to be patient, it will take time to vaccinate’
  • ‘Pushing transmission down requires a sustained, consistent effort’

GENEVA: The World Health Organization’s European director Hans Kluge said on Thursday COVID-19 transmission rates in Europe remained too high, putting health services under severe strain, and therefore it was “too early to ease up.”
“We need to be patient, it will take time to vaccinate,” he told an online briefing. “We have learned harsh lessons — opening and closing, and reopening (societies) rapidly is a poor strategy” in seeking to curb coronavirus contagion, he said.
“Transmission rates across Europe are still very high, impacting health systems and straining services, making it too early to ease up,” Kluge said. “Pushing transmission down requires a sustained, consistent effort. Bear in mind that just over 3 percent of people in the region have had a confirmed COVID-19 infection. Areas hit badly once can be hit again.”
Kluge said a total of 35 countries in Europe had launched vaccination programs with 25 million does administered so far.
“These vaccines have shown the efficacy and safety we all hoped they would...This monumental undertaking will release pressure on our health systems and undoubtedly save lives.”
He said continued high rates of transmission and emerging variants of the virus made it urgent to vaccinate priority groups, but said the rate of vaccine production and distribution was not yet meeting expectations.
“This paradox, where communities sense an end is in sight with the vaccine but, at the same time, are called to adhere to restrictive measures in the face of a new threat, is causing tension, angst, fatigue, and confusion. This is completely understandable in these circumstances.”