One of the worst storms over the Bay of Bengal in years SUPER CYCLONE AMPHANE will hit Bengal this afternoon.
Amphan weakened from a super cyclone to an “extremely severe cyclonic storm” on Tuesday, causing strong winds and heavy rain in parts of Odisha and Bengal as it advanced towards the Indian coast. More than three lakh people have been evacuated in Bengal. Officials anticipate massive destruction when the cyclone strikes.
Amphan is expected to pack winds gusting up to 185 kilometres per hour when it crosses West Bengal’s Digha and Bangladesh’s Hatiya. Amphan is only the second “super cyclone” to form in the northeastern Indian Ocean since records began. Indian Navy is on “high alert” on the east coast for relief efforts, an official statement said.
Early morning visuals showed winds and heavy rain in Paradip in Odisha and South 24 Paraganas in Bengal. Seven districts of Bengal are likely to face the direct impact of the cyclone. Kolkata, which is close to the coast, is also on alert.
Describing the vulnerable areas as “red plus zones”, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said she would stay overnight in the control room tonight.
Those living near the coast have been warned against stepping out; fishermen have been warned to stay off coast. Mamata Banerjee said they should stay in from Wednesday morning until an all-clear was sounded on Thursday. “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, recalling that when Cyclone Fani hit last year, more died when the cyclone was leaving.
Three lakh people have been evacuated in Bengal, one lakh have been evacuated to safety in Odisha. On Tuesday, Home Minister Amit Shah spoke to Chief Ministers of Bengal and Odisha – Mamata Banerjee and Naveen Patnaik – on phone, assuring them all help from the central government.
Cyclone Amphan along with the coronavirus fight pose a double challenge for the country, National Disaster Response Force chief SN Pradhan said on Tuesday. “We have told Bengal and Odisha, social distancing has to be maintained strictly in cyclone shelters. If a shelter has space for 1,000, then only 500 should be allowed,” NDRF said