Updated: May 27, 2021 6:53:51 am
As Cyclone Yaas made landfall in north Odisha around 10.30 am on Wednesday, strong winds and heavy tides lashed several coastal towns and villages on either sides of the Odisha-West Bengal border, inundating low-lying areas and uprooting trees, and claiming at least three lives — two in Odisha and one in West Bengal.
The landfall, which happened between north of Dhamra coast in Odisha’s Bhadrak district and Bahanga coast in the state’s Balasore district, continued until 1 pm, with estimated wind speeds of 130-155 kmph, the Indian Meteorological Department said. By Wednesday afternoon, the ‘Very Severe Cyclonic Storm’ had weakened into a ‘Severe Cyclonic Storm’, before moving towards Mayurbhanj district in Odisha.
On the other side of the border, in Digha, a coastal town in Bengal’s Purba Medinipur district, hours before the landfall, tall tidal waves breached embankments and flooded villages around a kilometre from the sea. Shops, huts and resorts and hotels along the beach were damaged as the waves pounded them.
“In my 53 years, I have never seen the sea like this. During high tide, embankments used to be breached but not like this. The entire area is submerged in water,” said Shyamal Tudu, knee deep in water in his shop where he sold handicrafts.
Tajpur, Shankarpur and Mandarmani, all coastal towns neighbouring Digha, too bore the brunt of the cyclone, with roads adjacent to the sea damaged and fields flooded. In Ramnagar area of the district, one person reportedly drowned after water flooded the village.
Embankments were also breached in Frazerganj, Bakkhali, Sundarban, Kakdwip, Namkhana, Sagar Island, Gosaba and other places in West Bengal’s South 24 Parganas district.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said the cyclone has damaged more than 3 lakh houses and affected about 1 crore people. She said 15 lakh people from coastal areas have been evacuated.
Personnel of the Indian Army and NDRF moved people to safety and also worked to clear the roads of fallen trees.
In Odisha, as the cyclone made landfall, three seaside villages in Balasore district — Banajoka, Charigochhia and Naupalagadi — were inundated, cutting off about 5,000 people. A flash flood was also reported in Basudevpur block of Bhadrak district, affecting 10 villages. People in the village dug up a road to divert seawater that had entered a residential area.
Initial reports claimed two cyclone-related casualties in Odisha — one each from Keonjhar and Balasore district — as the victims were crushed under trees uprooted by the winds.
Dhani Malik, a resident of Basudevpur, said, “This was what we feared all along — that water would enter our homes and damage our fields. We are lucky to be safe, but it will take very long for things to get back to normal.” Malik had moved back to his village from a cyclone relief shelter on Wednesday evening to find his house partially submerged in water.
By Wednesday evening, as the cyclone moved further northwest towards Odisha’s Mayurbhanj district, State Special Relief Commissioner P K Jena said, “Mayurbhanj continues to be on alert. The next 12 hours until Thursday morning remain crucial. Over 1 lakh people from low lying areas of the district have been evacuated to safer locations. Our teams are closely monitoring the situation there.”
The wind speed is expected to come down to 60-70 kmph as the cyclone moves towards Jharkhand by Thursday morning, IMD Director Mrutyunjay Mahapatra said.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Wednesday evening reviewed the post-cyclone situation and announced seven days of ration and other supplies to families of 128 villages in cyclone-affected districts.
Work on restoration of roads has begun and 80 per cent of electricity supply is expected to be restored in the next 24 hours in the affected districts, the CM announced.
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