West Bengal and Odisha are bracing for Amphan, now upgraded to only the second super cyclone to form in the Bay of Bengal in two decades, which is expected to make landfall along Digha in West Bengal by Wednesday evening.
IMD Director General Mrutyunjay Mohapatra, who addressed a Facebook live session Monday, said that Amphan was moving at a speed of 220-230 km/hr as on Monday evening. “The wind speed… when it hits land would be 165-175 km/hr, gusting to up to 195 km/hr. Districts in West Bengal, including East and West Medinipur, South and North 24 Parganas, Howrah, Hooghly, Kolkata would be affected severely… We expect tidal waves as high as 4 to 6 metres, as tall as a two-storeyed building.”
Heavy to very heavy rainfall is expected in the coastal Odisha districts of Jagatsinghpur, Balasore, Kendrapara, Bhadrak and Mayurbhanj on Tuesday, Mohapatra added.
The West Bengal government has started evacuating people from coastal areas to cyclone centres. “Instructions have been given to officials in this regard,” Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said.
In Odisha, Special Relief Commissioner P K Jena said the district collectors of Ganjam, Gajapati, Puri, Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara, Bhadrak, Balasore, Mayurbhanj, Jajpur, Cuttack, Khurda and Nayagarh have been asked to prepare for evacuation if necessary. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has directed officials to prepare a plan.
The IMD chief said the storm “intensified very rapidly during the 24 hours between the evening of May 17 and May 18. Though there have been two or three super cyclones in the past, Amphan is only the second after the Odisha super cyclone of 1999 to form in the North Indian Ocean.”
The meeting chaired by the PM was attended by Home Minister Amit Shah, Principal Advisor to the Prime Minister P K Sinha and Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba.
The NDRF informed the meeting that 25 teams had been deployed to tackle the situation and 12 were in reserve. Army, Air Force, Navy and Coast Guard teams have also been put on alert.
Gauba spoke with the West Bengal and Odisha chief secretaries on their requirements and preparations. The states have been assured of all help and told to ensure adequate food supplies.
The super cyclone might result in a marginal delay in the onset of monsoon — from its usual date on June 1 to June 5 — the IMD said.
(With PTI inputs)
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