Heavy showers, strong winds lash Mumbai as cyclone Tauktae passes coast

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(Eds: Updating and combining related copies) Mumbai, May 17 (PTI) Gusty winds and heavy showers lashed Mumbai and its neighbouring areas on Monday as the 'very severe cyclonic storm' Tauktae headed towards Gujarat, uprooting trees and disrupting local train services in the metropolis, officials said.

Wind speed reached 114 kmph on Monday afternoon.

Several parts of Mumbai and neighbouring areas witnessed heavy downpour coupled with high speed winds.

The civic body said its automatic weather stations recorded an average 105.44 mm rainfall in the island city till 5 pm, while the eastern and western suburbs recorded 61.13 mm and 114.78 mm rainfall, respectively.

The Mumbai Met department recorded 189 mm rainfall at Colaba observatory while a rainfall of 194 mm was recorded at Santacruz till 5.30 pm.

The civic H-East ward in the Western suburbs received the highest 242 mm rainfall during the day. Chincholi area in Malad and K-East ward that includes Marol and Andheri East areas recorded 236 mm and 231 mm rainfall, respectively.

The Bandra-Worli sea-link was closed for traffic in view of the strong winds and people were asked to take alternate routes, another senior official of the BMC said.

The Colaba area in south Mumbai recorded a wind speed of 102 km per hour around 11 am.

As per the Mumbai IMD, the highest wind speed of 108 km per hour was recorded at the Colaba observatory in the afternoon, said Shubhangi Bhute, senior director, IMD Mumbai.

The wind speed of 114 kmph, the highest during the day, was recorded around 2 pm at the BMC's automatic weather station located at Afghan Church in south Mumbai's Colaba area.

At the same time, the Colaba observatory witnessed the wind speed of 108 kmph, the civic body said.

Local trains services of the Central Railway were disrupted between suburban Ghatkopar and Vikhroli for about half-an-hour as a tree fell on an overhead wire while a train was heading towards neighbouring Thane, a railway spokesperson said.

Services on the harbour line, that provides rail connectivity to Navi Mumbai, were also affected after a vinyl banner fell on an overhead wire between Chunabhatti and Guru Tej Bahadur stations around 11.45 am.

The banner was removed after about half-an-hour and train services were resumed, he said.

Due to the strong winds, some plastic sheets covering the roof of the common passenger area between the suburban and main lines at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) were blown away in the morning, he said.

The area was cordoned off and the railway staff immediately attended to it, he said.

Despite the civic body's claims of drains having been cleaned as part of preparedness for the upcoming monsoon season, there was water-logging in several low-lying areas of the city.

The Mumbai police tweeted about water-logging in six low-lying areas, including the Hindmata junction, Andheri subway and Malad Subway, crucial for the east-west connectivity.

A citizen in a Twitter post claimed a temporary pandal erected for vaccination in Dahisar was partially damaged due to the heavy rain and high velocity winds. However, civic officials did not confirm it.

As a precautionary measure, the monorail services in the city were suspended for the day, the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) said.

This was a 'prompt decision' taken for the safety of commuters, the MMRDA said.

Flight operations at Mumbai airport remained suspended for 11 hours before resuming on Monday night.

More than 55 flights, both incoming and outbound, were cancelled at the city's airport till around 7.30 pm due to the closure.

The Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport had announced suspension of all air services, initially for three hours from 11 am on Monday due to the cyclone. This was later extended eventually to 10 pm in different phases.

According to civic officials, around 34 incidents of tree fall were reported in Mumbai since Sunday, but there was no report of any injury to anyone.

The civic-run Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) undertaking has deployed officers of its transport and power wings at various locations, including control rooms for disaster management.

According to civic officials, the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and the Indian Navy were on alert as Cyclone Tauktae intensified to a very severe cyclonic storm and was passing close to Mumbai.

Six flood rescue teams of the Mumbai fire brigade were deployed at chowpatties and five temporary shelters each were kept ready in 24 civic wards of the city to shift citizens there if required, they said.

The IMD has predicted heavy rainfall at isolated places in Mumbai and suburbs within the next 24 hours and the speed of winds could go up to 120 kmph. PTI KK IAS GK NSK NSK

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