New Delhi — A cyclone landed on Wednesday in an area where more than 1.1 million people were evacuated during a catastrophic coronavirus surge, causing heavy rains and storm surges to hit parts of Bangladesh, adjacent to eastern India.
Cyclone Yaas had already killed two people and damaged their homes as heavy rains struck Orissa and West Bengal before the storm began to land late in the morning.
According to the India Meteorological Department, “extremely intense cyclone storms” result in sustained winds of 130-140 km / h (up to 87 mph) and gusts of up to 155 kph (97 mph). The storm is almost completely landed and the wind is expected to weaken by Wednesday evening.
In Bangladesh, thousands of people in 200 villages were flooded by storm surges that flooded their homes, shops and farms.
Mashfaqur Rahman, the region’s chief administrator, said in the southern part of Patuakari, more than 20 villages in Rangabari were submerged after the two river embankments were washed away. He said at least 15,000 people had evacuated to the cyclone shelter.
In India, television images showed knee-deep water flooding the beachfront and other areas of Diga, a resort town in West Bengal. Gusts shook palm trees back and forth, and overflowing water broke through several riverbanks.
West Bengal’s highest-elected official, Mamata Banerjee, told reporters that 20,000 mud huts and temporary housing for the poor were damaged along the coast.
On Tuesday, a tornado cut off power lines, two people were electrocuted, and 40 homes were damaged, Banerjee said.
Since Tuesday, it has rained more than 17 centimeters (6.5 inches) in the Chandabari and Paradeep regions of Orissa, according to the Meteorological Department. A tsunami of up to 4 meters (13 feet) was predicted.
Kolkata and Bhubaneswar airports have been closed and train operations have been cancelled. Trawlers and boats were told to evacuate.
Cyclones in the midst of a coronavirus surge complicate India’s efforts to deal with both after the next storm, Cyclone Taukte, which struck India’s west coast last week and killed more than 140 people. ..
Orissa’s Prime Minister, Navine Patnerk, urged people in the shelter to wear double masks and maintain social distance. “We have to face both challenges at the same time,” Patnaik said.
SN Pradhan, director of India’s National Disaster Response Force, said thousands of emergency personnel were stationed to support evacuation and rescue operations. The Air Force and Navy were also on standby.
A year ago, the most powerful cyclone in more than a decade struck eastern India, killing nearly 100 people.
“We couldn’t repair the damage to our house from the last cyclone. Now another cyclone is coming, how do we stay here?” Said Samitri, who uses only one name.
Some of the most deadly tropical cyclones on record occurred in the Bay of Bengal. The 1999 Super Cyclone killed about 10,000 people and devastated most of Orissa. According to the World Meteorological Organization, improved forecasts and improved relief coordination resulted in less than 50 deaths from cyclone Phailin, a similarly severe storm in 2013.
By Ashok Sharma and Julhas Alam