Amphan is Coming: These Visuals from Odisha, Bengal Show Us What to Expect


Amphan is Coming: These Visuals from Odisha, Bengal Show Us What to Expect

Illustration: Robin Chakraborty

Cyclone Amphan, one of the worst storms over the Bay of Bengal in years, is likely to hit West Bengal and Odisha between 4 pm and 6 pm today. Amphan, which weakened from a “super cyclone” to an “extremely severe cyclonic storm”, is being constantly tracked by Doppler Weather Radar at Visakhapatnam. It is only the second “super cyclone” to form in the northeastern Indian Ocean since records have been maintained and is expected to pack winds gusting up to 185 kilometres per hour when it crosses West Bengal’s Digha and Hatiya island of Bangladesh.

Winds are picking up pace and heavy rains have been a feature for the last few hours, as parts of India and Bangladesh brace for the impact of the storm.

In Odisha’s Paradip, wind speeds touching 102 kmph have uprooted trees. Reports are also coming in of mud houses collapsing in Jagatsinghpur.

A storm surge – as high as five metres above the astronomical tide – will inundate low-lying areas in West Bengal, reports NDTV. “Storm surge” refers to rising levels of sea due to the storm, which creates a wall of water several metres higher than the normal tide.

In Bengal and Odisha, nearly five lakh people have been evacuated to safety. In Bangladesh, more than 20 million people have been moved out of areas to be worst-hit by the storm.

The coronavirus pandemic has only added to the challenge, as it’s difficult to follow social distancing norms amid rescue operations. However, extra shelters were being prepared in wholesale markets and government buildings with allowances made for social distancing, while masks and scarves were being distributed among the villagers.

“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 chief SN Pradhan said in an interview.

The Eastern Naval Command is in high degree of readiness to render necessary humanitarian assistance. Naval ships at Vizag are on standby to proceed to affected areas to undertake Humanitarian Aid Distress Relief, evacuation, and logistic support including providing medical aid. These ships are ready with additional divers, doctors, inflatable rubber boats, and relief material including food, tentage, clothes, medicines, blankets in sufficient quantities, the Indian Navy stated. The Indian Coast Guard ships and aircraft are also kept on standby for deployment to undertake area scan, search, rescue and relief efforts.

Prime Minister Modi chaired a high-level meeting with the Ministry of Home Affairs and NDMA officials to review the Cyclone Amphan. “I pray for everyone’s safety and assure all possible support from the Central Government,” he said.

Let’s hope the first bit of positive news we are awaiting from this dreaded year comes in the form of our success in dealing with Cyclone Amphan.