Published on : Tuesday, May 19, 2020
India and Bangladesh have been recently put under a severe cyclone warning. The Super Cyclone Amphan is due to make landfall in less than 36 hours near the border of the two countries. The cyclone is expected to arrive with strong damaging winds and heavy rainfall. Millions of people are being evacuated from the coastal area in a time when both the countries are suffering from the terrible crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Super Cyclone Amphan has been declared as the strongest storm ever recorded in the Bay of Bengal. According to reports provided by the U.S. Joint Typhoon Warning Center, the cyclone was at its strongest on Monday night after it intensified sustained wind speeds of up to 270 kilometers per hour (165 miles per hour).
Although the latest reports suggest that Amphan has slightly weakened as compared to its inception, it continues to be strong enough to be placed under Category 4 Atlantic hurricane, or a super typhoon in the West Pacific, with winds speeds up to 240 kph (150 mph). The super cyclone is expected to hit the land on Wednesday evening near to the Indian city of Kolkata.
The current speed of the storm is expected to be reduced as it makes landfall but the Indian meteorology department has predicted approximately 10-16 feet (more than 3-5) meters of a surge in waters. Satya Narayan Pradhan, Director General, National Disaster Relief Force (NDRS), said in a statement that the forthcoming cyclone has placed up to 260,000 people in the coastal areas of West Bengal and Odisha in immediate danger.
He mentioned that buses have already been arranged to evacuate families from coastal regions but many will still have to walk to the emergency shelters. He also informed that areas under threat from the cyclone were comparatively less developed, with many villagers in temporary homes with thatched or tin roofs. The process of evacuation continued till Wednesday morning.
The state of West Bengal is equipped to shelter around 500,000 individuals effected by cyclones but the ongoing coronavirus crisis has compelled the state to reduce the number by more than half to a mere 200,000. However, extra shelters are being prepared in parts of Bangladesh and India to maintain social distancing rules. Facial masks are also likely to be distributed. In addition, around 25 NDRF teams have been deployed to the region, with 12 others ready in reserve, and 24 other teams are on standby in different parts of India.
The Indian Meteorological Department issued a warning for fishermen and urged to remain onshore and refrain from sailing out for the next 24 hours. Both the states of Odisha and West Bengal have also asked schools and other buildings in the areas likely to be hit by the super cyclone to be turned into temporary shelters.
Enamur Rahman, Disaster Management Junior Minister, Bangladesh has said in a statement that the country is planning to move about two million people from coastal areas to more than 12,000 cyclone shelters. Selim Hossain, Senior Information Official, Bangladesh has further added that the country is capable of housing around 9.1 million people to cyclone shelters while maintaining social distancing. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi reviewed the country’s emergency response measures ahead of the storm’s landfall in India and assured for safety assistance and support from the government.