Super cyclone Amphan is likely to weaken in to an extremely severe cyclonic storm and make landfall along the coast of West Bengal by Wednesday evening, the IMD has said.
At least three lakh people have been evacuated from coastal areas of the state, chief minister Mamata Banerjee said. Lakhs more are being evacuated from the coastal districts of Odisha.
The cyclone will bring heavy rainfall, squally winds and storm surges in the coastal districts of Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapada, Bhadrak, Jajpur and Balasore in Odisha, the IMD said. Odisha’s Special Relief Commissioner (SRC) PK Jena said the state’s evacuation exercise will be completed on Tuesday. People living within five km of the coastline and in vulnerable areas are being evacuated.
On Tuesday morning, Amphan lay centred over west-central Bay of Bengal, about 520 km south of Paradip (Odisha), 670 km south-southwest of Digha (West Bengal) and 800 km south-southwest of Khepupara in Bangladesh, H R Biswas, the director of Meteorological Centre, Bhubaneswar told PTI.
Cyclone Amphan is only the second super cyclone over the Bay of Bengal after the one that savaged Odisha in 1999, claiming nearly 10,000 lives.
“A total of 41 NDRF teams including reserves are deployed in two Amphan-affected states of Odisha and West Bengal,” NDRF chief SN Pradhan said
“Wireless sets, satellite phones and other communication equipment are also with our teams. Our preparation is on par with facing a super cyclone like the one that hit the Odisha coast in 1999,” he said.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN?
Amphan is likely to weaken in to an extremely severe cyclonic storm, move north-northeastwards over Bay of Bengal and cross West Bengal-Bangladesh coasts between Digha and Hatiya Islands on Wednesday afternoon or evening as a very severe cyclonic storm with maximum sustained wind speed of 155-165 kmph gusting to 180 kmph, he said.
The cyclone is being continuously tracked by the Doppler Weather Radar (DWR) at Vishakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh.
WHAT WILL BE THE IMPACT?
Very high wind speeds ranging up to 155-165 kmph gusting to 185 kmph are expected, accompanied by heavy rainfall and storm surges of 4-5 metres in the coastal districts of West Bengal.
Districts of East Medinipur, South and North 24 Parganas, Howrah, Hooghly and Kolkata are expected to be impacted, IMD’s statement said.
The damage potential of the cyclone is expected to be higher than that of cyclone ‘Bulbul’, which hit the West Bengal coast on November 9, 2019, it said.
Cyclone Amphan will also bring heavy rainfall, squally winds and storm surges in the coastal districts of Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapada, Bhadrak, Jajpur and Balasore in Odisha.
How Bengal is preparing
On Monday, the Meteorological (MeT) Department had issued an “orange message” for West Bengal, warned of extensive damage in Kolkata, Hooghly, Howrah, South and North 24 Parganas and East Midnapore districts and disruption of rail and road link at several places.
“Storm surge of 4 to 5 metres above astronomical tide is likely to inundate low lying areas of South and North 24 Parganas and about 3 to 4 metres over low lying areas of East Midnapore district of West Bengal during the time of landfall,” IMD’s Regional Director G K Das in Kolkata said.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said, “We will be monitoring the situation for cyclone ‘Amphan’ 24X7. Chief secretary Rajiva Sinha, Home secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay and secretary disaster management will be monitoring the situation.”
People who have been evacuated have been shifted to cyclone shelters, Banerjee said.
The chief minister said she will talk to the Railways not to run any Shramik Special’ trains to bring back migrant labourers to the state from Wednesday till Thursday morning as a precautionary measure.
Mamata also said she had spoke to Union home minister Amit Shah. Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with Shah had on Monday reviewed the situation arising and assured assistance from the central government.
Odisha evacuating over 11 lakh people
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has set a target of ensuring zero casualty. Chief Secretary A K Tripathy said the government is closely monitoring the situation and is in constant touch with 12 coastal districts to ensure foolproof arrangements.
Odisha Panchayati Raj Minister Pratap Jena said the state said it which is evacuating people today, will strictly adhere to social distancing guidelines for COVID-19.
Jena said evacuation of people living in low-lying areas, thatched and mud structures in the coastal districts is under progress and the process will be completed by evening.
He said the state government has made arrangements for evacuating over 11 lakh people as a precautionary measure.
Pregnant women and ailing people will be shifted to hospitals, Jena said.
Since the cyclone will take place in summer there is no fear of floods but several reservoirs have been asked to release water as precautionary measure, he added.
Chief Secretry A K Tripathy said four senior officers with vast experience in handling such calamities have been deputed to different districts on the direction of CM Patnaik to supervise preparations and guide the local administration.
As high velocity winds may damage power infrastructure and roads, necessary equipment and manpower have been mobilised in order to ensure quick restoration in the affected areas, he said.
All fishermen along with boats and vessels have already returned from the seas and they have been advised not to venture out for fishing activities till May 2.
The cyclone comes a year after ‘Fani’ barreled through vast areas of Odisha on May 3 last year, claiming at least 64 lives and destroying infrastructure in power, telecom, water supply and other vital sectors.
Reuters reported India’s coastline gets hit by more than a tenth of all the world’s tropical cyclones, the bulk of them hitting the eastern coast around the Bay of Bengal.
(With inputs from PTI and Reuters)