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Cyclone Amphan Leaves a Trail of Destruction in West Bengal and Odisha

BY Khansa Hareem May 21, 2020

Indian States of West Bengal and Odisha on the Eastern coast are hit by one of the worst storms of the Bay of Bengal—cyclone Amphan, leaving a trail of destruction of houses and buildings, uprooting trees and electricity poles, swamping low-lying areas, flooding of Kolkata International Airport and killing 72 in West Bengal. The migrant labourers who lost their sources of livelihood due to the lockdown, now lose their homes in the Cyclonic storm—as the calamity has been described by the Indian Meteorological Department.

Here are nine (8) points on the ongoing Super Cyclone Amphan

  • The India Meteorological Department said the extremely severe cyclonic storm crossed the West Bengal-Bangladesh coast between Digha (West Bengal) and Hatiya Islands (Bangladesh) across the Sunderbans (West Bengal) near latitude 21.65N & longitude 88.3E between 3.30 pm and 5.30 pm with wind speeds of 155-165 kmph, gusting to 185 kmph. In Kolkata, wind speeds quickly went from 69 kmph to about 105 kmph a little before 6 pm, and kept increasing in intensity thereafter. The districts of East Midnapore, South 24-Parganas and North 24-Parganas were the worst affected.
  • Mamata Banerjee, the Chief Minister of West Bengal, said the impact of the Cyclone is worse than the global pandemic—Coronavirus and the damages in the region could be around Rs 1 lakh crore.
  • Weather in various parts of the country has been affected and National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), on Twitter, advised people against going out until the Government issues all clear messages. Rainfall is expected throughout the Northeast.

Read more: How do we estimate the intensity of tropical cyclones?

  • The Indian Met Department issued a warning to western districts of Assam,

“Heavy to very heavy rainfall at isolated places very likely over Dhubri, South Salmara-Mankachar, Goalpara districts in Assam” said a release. “While these western districts are experiencing heavy rainfall and winds, the other parts of the state will have light to moderate rains — expected through the day,” said an official from the IMD.

  • Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi said No stone will be left unturned in helping the affected, tweeted PM Modi and that the central government is closely monitoring the situation to for assistance.

    May 20, 2020: Satellite imagery of super cyclonic storm Amphan. (NASA)

  • Timely and accurate forecast by the Indian Met Department and rapid response by the NDRF helped in minimising damage to human lives—considering Cyclone Amphan to be the second strongest cyclone, only after 1999 super cyclone of Odisha. National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) personnel reached the majorly impacted areas and began to clear and restore the roads.
  • Over five lakhs and two lakh people have been evacuated and placed in shelters in West Bengal and Odisha, respectively.
  • UNICEF, said at least 19 million children in Bangladesh and India, are at imminent risk from flash flooding and heavy rainfalls because of the cyclone. It also added the COVID crisis could deepen the humanitarian consequences of the cyclone in both the countries. Evacuees who have moved to crowded temporary shelters would be especially vulnerable to the spread of respiratory diseases like Covid-19, and other infections. “We continue to monitor the situation closely,” UNICEF Regional Director for South Asia Jean Gough was quoted as saying by PTI.

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