Cyclone Bulbul wreaks havoc; kills 4 in Odisha, West Bengal
Four people have been killed across Odisha and West Bengal as Cyclone Bulbul made landfall, wreaking havoc overnight. The severe cyclonic storm brought along heavy rain with winds gusting at 100-120 kmph. On Sunday morning, however, the wind speeds came down to 70-80 kmph. Bulbul is likely to weaken gradually as it moves northeastwards along coastal Bangladesh, where 2 million people have been evacuated.
According to the India Meteorological Department, as of 08:30 am Sunday, the cyclonic storm Bulbul lay centered about 70 km east-northeast of Sunderban National Park, 140 km east-southeast of Kolkata and 60 km west-northwest of Khepupara in Bangladesh. As Bulbul moves east-northeastwards, it is likely to weaken into Deep Depression over the next six hours, and into a Depression during the subsequent six hours.
The IMD forecasts light-moderate rainfall in North & South 24 Parganas, East Medinipur and Nadiya districts over the next six hours, and across South Assam & Meghalaya, Tripura, and Mizoram over the next 24 hours. Further, gale winds—reaching 75-85 kmph—will prevail around the cyclone system, decreasing to 60-70 kmph to 80 kmph over coastal Bangladesh and adjoining North Bay of Bengal, by Sunday afternoon.
"Sea condition will be high over North Bay of Bengal along & off Bangladesh coast and very rough over northwest Bay of Bengal and along & off Bengal coast during next 6 hours," IMD stated, warning fishermen against venturing into sea for next 12 hours.
Reportedly, a woman in North 24 Parganas was killed on Sunday as an uprooted tree fell on her Bashirhat home. Another man was killed in East Midnapore's Nandigram. In Odisha's Kendrapara, two deaths were reported—one from drowning and another from wall collapse. Over 7,800 houses were damaged, 870 trees uprooted, and 950 phone towers affected in West Bengal, the Home Ministry stated.
In Odisha too, Bulbul damaged roads, trees, and communication and power services. The Home Ministry, however, said that 70% of connections are already restored, with remaining connections to be restored by Sunday evening. Trees were cleared off streets and normal traffic resumed, the ministry added.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announced that 1,64,315 persons were rescued from the low lying areas in the coastal districts. At least 75 passengers of a cruise ship in the Bay of Bengal were also rescued, she said. Eight fishermen, stranded on an island after their boat capsized, were also rescued by the Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force (ODRAF) team and local fishermen.
Separately, Banerjee announced on Sunday that she has postponed her visit to North Bengal in the coming week as she will be conducting an aerial survey of the affected areas around Namkhana and Bakkhali on Monday. Further, she said she will hold a meeting at Kakdwip to review relief and rehabilitation measures, and will visit cyclone-affected Basirhat of North 24-Parganas on Wednesday.
Earlier on Saturday, Banerjee tweeted, "Please do not panic. Kindly remain calm and co-operate with the administration in its rescue and relief efforts. Be alert, take care and stay safe." Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he spoke to Banerjee and "assured all possible assistance from the Centre." He said, "I pray for everyone's safety and well-being," adding that he is reviewing the cyclone situation.