Cyclone Amphan hurtles towards Bengal coast, rains lash Odisha
Cyclone Amphan, whom the IMD yesterday called the worst cyclone to have been formed over the Bay of Bengal since 1999, is likely to make landfall in West Bengal today afternoon. From a "super cyclone", the cyclone has weakened to an "extremely severe cyclonic storm". Before the landfall, rains lashed parts of Odisha, another state expected to be impacted. Here are more details.
IMD Chief Mrutyunjay Mohapatra said the cyclone will cause heavy damage to structures, houses, and trees. "We are dealing with a multi-hazard scenario," he said. During landfall, the storm is expected to dump heavy rains, accompanied by winds having a speed of 155-165 kmph, gusting to 185 kmph. Over 40 teams of NDRF were rushed to help Odisha and Bengal.
Nearly 3 lakh people have been evacuated from Bengal. On Tuesday, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announced she will be monitoring the "red plus zones". "I will stay overnight in the control room tomorrow," she told media persons. Fishermen were told to not venture into the sea. Similarly, those living near the coasts were asked to remain indoors until an all-clear signal is sounded.
"The tail-end of a cyclone can do worst damage, so people should not come out of their homes until they get an all-clear," she said, adding that 2019's Cyclone Fani killed more people when it was subsiding. The all-clear signal could come on Thursday.
In neighboring Odisha, over 1 lakh people have been evacuated from 13 vulnerable districts. The maximum number of people were evacuated from Kendrapara (32,060). 26,174 and 23,142 were evacuated from Bhadrak and Balasore respectively. 1,704 shelter homes were set up. Some parts of Odisha witnessed rainfall. Officials are hoping the prediction that Amphan would be as devastating as 1999's Super Cyclone is proved wrong.
Locals in Odisha, who have witnessed devastating cyclones in the past, aren't leaving anything to chance. Panchanan Das, a local, told ANI, "I stay at Bengal Sahi and have faced the 1999 Super Cyclone. When the administration announced that a similar cyclone is going to hit Odisha, we immediately fled." Another said, "We are becoming more and more afraid of the wind."
Cyclone Amphan comes at a time when India is already dealing with coronavirus crisis. NDRF Chief SN Pradhan said, "It's for the first time that we are facing two disasters simultaneously. We are facing a dual challenge of 'cyclone in the time of COVID-19'." Pradhan said a shelter, which can accommodate 1,000 people, will house only 500, considering social distancing guidelines.