KOLKATA: Cyclone Amphan, the strongest storm on record in the Bay of Bengal, is expected to make landfall on Wednesday evening, and heavy rain and strong winds has started battering India’s coastal districts of Odisha and West Bengal.Mobile comunication in the city has been severely disrupted.
More than four hundred thousand people have been evacuated from the coastal areas in both the states.The West Bengal government issued a red alert across several districts and advised all traders in Kolkata and adjacent South Bengal districts to keep shops closed.
NDRF teams are working in the cyclone-affected parts.The home minister also said the teams of the National Disaster Response Force are already on the ground to help the people affected by the cyclone.The cyclone hit the states at a time when it is already struggling to fight the transmission of the novel coronavirus.
However, coastal districts like Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara, Bhadrak and Balasore may experience heavy rain along with high-speed winds.
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik took an aerial survey of districts affected by thein the state. The damages caused in state is limited to agriculutre, said the state officials.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said people should stay indoors from Wednesday morning until an all-clear was sounded.The chief minister also announced a compensation of Rs 2 lakh to Rs 2.5 lakh for the family members of each of the deceased.
India Meteorological Department Director General Mrutyunjay Mohapatra said since Amphan is gradually weakening, it is unlikely to have severe impact in Odisha.
40 teams of the National Disaster Response Force have been deployed in West Bengal and Odisha to deal with emergencies. NDRF chief SN Pradhan on Tuesday said both West Bengal and Odisha authorities have been asked to maintain physical distancing in cyclone shelters.
When the cyclone barrelled in from the Bay of Bengal on Wednesday the storm surge of around five metres resulted in flooding across the low-lying coastal areas.Reuters Television footage shot in West Bengal showed upturned boats on the shore, people wading through knee-deep water and buses crashed into each other.
More images showed villagers trying to lift fallen electricity poles, fishermen hauling their boats out of a choppy sea, and uprooted trees lying strewn across the countryside.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi posted a tweet expressing concern over the people suffering in West Bengal.”Have been seeing visuals from West Bengal on the devastation caused by Cyclone Amphan. In this challenging hour, the entire nation stands in solidarity with West Bengal,” he said.Prime Minister Narendra Modi will undertake an aerial survey of “cyclone-hit” areas on Friday, official sources said.
The airport in Kolkata, West Bengal’s state capital, lay under water and several neighbourhoods in the city of 14 million people have had no electricity since the storm struck, according to residents.