Super Cyclone Amphan to hit Bengal & Odisha, PM Modi reviews preparedness
Cyclone Amphan (pronounced as UM-PUN) intensified into an extremely severe super cyclonic storm on Monday, as reported by the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD). It is set to make a landfall between coasts of West Bengal and Bangladesh.
According to IMD, the super cyclone is likely to move north-north-eastwards across the northwest Bay of Bengal, and cross the West Bengal and Bangladesh coasts between Digha(WB) and the Hatia islands(Bangladesh) close to the Sundarbans on May 20 with the maximum sustained wind speed of 165-175 Kmph gusting to 185 Kmph.
Extremely heavy rainfall and severe winds are expected in parts of West Bengal (including East Medinipur, South and North 24 Parganas, Hooghly, and Kolkata) and Odisha (including Bhadrak, Jagatsinghpur, and Keonjhargarh). Few coastal areas of West Bengal and Odisha are already witnessing rainfall since the early hours of Tuesday and it is likely to intensify and become maximum by the end of the day and May 20. Light to heavy rainfall is expected over western districts of Assam and Meghalaya on May 21.
Taking cognizance of the situation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday chaired a high-level meeting to review the preparedness and emergency response measures to tackle the cyclone. He also took full stock of the evacuation plan proposed by the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF). As per a report by the Met department, extensive infrastructural damage is expected from the super cyclone in parts of West Bengal and Odisha. NDRF officials have stated that 25 teams have been deployed to tackle the cyclone, 12 teams are ready in reserve, while 24 teams have been kept on standby.
Indian Coast Guard and the Navy have deployed ships and helicopters for relief and rescue operations, as stated by the Home Ministry. Several units of the army and Air Force are also on standby in West Bengal and Odisha for the rescue operation. Evacuation operations are underway in various parts of West Bengal and Odisha as the cyclonic winds and rainfall make their way to the states. Odisha state government under CM Naveen Patnaik is taking efforts to evacuate people from vulnerable areas. West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee has assured of taking all precautionary steps to mitigate the effects of super cyclone, including evacuation of people from coastal areas. Fishermen have been advised to stay away from the sea off the coasts of Bengal and Odisha till May 21.
Amphan is the first super cyclone to hit the Bay of Bengal in the last two decades since the super cyclone that hit Odisha in 1999 killing 9,000 people and causing widespread damage. IMD has stated that the Cyclone Amphan could be linked to higher sea surface temperatures. In the meantime, Bangladesh is also bracing to tackle the super cyclone, preparing to evacuate lakhs of people from various coastal areas from Tuesday.