21:32 GMT16 June 2021
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    Cyclone Tauktae is the first cyclone this year to hit India; it struck as the nation continues to battle the second wave of the pandemic. The evacuation and rescue operations being launched are faced with the added challenge of managing operations while adhering to COVID-19 protocols.

    Severe cyclonic storm Tauktae intensified overnight into a "very severe cyclonic storm" over east-central Arabian Sea, the weather office announced in the warning it issued on Sunday. The cyclone's fury has impacted life in six states including Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Goa. 

    Tauktae is "very likely to intensify further" during the next 12 hours, the India Meteorological Department predicted. The storm is likely to cross over the state of Gujarat's coast on Tuesday morning. 

    Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a review meeting on Saturday evening and issued directions for special preparedness needed for COVID-19 management in hospitals, as the vaccine must be kept at sub-zero temperatures in the event of power outages; he also addressed the storage of essential medicines in vulnerable locations.

    The state of Kerala saw high waves and ferocious winds on Saturday with heavy rain inundating several parts.

    The Chief of Kerala, Pinarayi Vijayan said that the impact of the cyclone will be felt for another 24 hours. Two people have been killed in the state so far due to cyclone related accidents. 

    The country's financial capital Mumbai is likely to be impacted by the cyclone by Sunday afternoon with fierce winds and heavy showers, said the weather office.

    India's Navy and Air Force are helping with relief operations as naval teams have assisted locals in Kerala and the Indian Air Force has air dropped National Disaster Response Force teams to affected areas. 

    Arabian Sea fishermen have been asked to remain in port until Tuesday, and tourism activities in the six states has ground to a halt. Goa, famous for its seaside tourism, has dispatched lifesaving equipment to its beaches. 

    Four people were killed and 73 villages destroyed in six districts of Karnataka state due to Cyclone Tauktae, according to the state disaster management authority. Of these six districts, three are located on the coast and three are inland. 


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