Tropical Cyclone Phyan hit India’s western coast near the commercial capital, Mumbai, prompting evacuations and storm warnings.
Phyan crossed the coast between Mumbai and Alibag, to the south of the city, between 3:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. local time and was forecast to track north-northeastward, the India Meteorological Department said on its Web site.
The system was likely to weaken from a deep depression to a depression during the night, after heavy rain and winds gusting to 70 kilometers (44 miles) per hour batter the coast of northern Maharashtra and southern Gujarat states, the department said in an advisory that was timed at 7 p.m. and posted at about 8:30 p.m., Bloomberg reports.
It was also reported, the storm was likely to move north-northeastwards and cross south Gujarat and the north Maharashtra coast, the meteorological department said on its Web site.
Although the speed of cyclone Phyan was less than a similar storm that hit the Indian state of West Bengal in May, authorities still feared damage to coastal settlements, power and communication lines.
"The cyclone is 350 kilometers south-west of Mumbai and the danger signal has been set in motion," said R.V. Sharma, an official at the meteorological office based in Mumbai.
In Mumbai, municipal authorities closed schools and offices three hours early Wednesday. Though train services remained unaffected so far, a Mumbai airport official said incoming and outbound flights were delayed, The Wall Street Journal reports.
News agencies also report, while an Indian Navy helicopter rescued fishermen from a sinking vessel off Ratnagiri, the Coast Guard assisted two offshore vessels at Bombay High which were stranded at sea, Captain M Nambiar, Defence Department, said. Fishermen have been warned of venturing into the sea though many fishermen are reportedly missing in the cyclone-hit Arabian Sea.
Not taking any chances for a city that has been often hit by natural and man-made disasters, the Maharashtra government and Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) asked all schools and colleges to close early and also send home employees of government offices and private companies by 2pm.
The Central Railway ran 12 additional trains to cope up with the afternoon rush. The BMC evacuated those living in hutments near the seashore and made arrangements for affected people to spend the nights in civic schools in case of an emergency, GulfNews reports.