A strong cyclone Amphan was moving toward India and Bangladesh on Tuesday as authorities were trying to evacuate millions of people while maintaining social distancing.
Amphan cyclone is expected to make landfall on Wednesday morning, and forecasters warned of extensive damage from high winds, heavy rainfall, tidal waves, and some flooding in crowded cities like Kolkata.
Millions of people in India and Bangladesh are in the path of a super cyclone which is due to make landfall in less than 36 hours, bringing damaging winds and heavy rain to a region already struggling with the coronavirus pandemic
The cyclone had winds of 220-230 kilometers per hour (136 -142 miles per hour) and is forecast to weaken before landfall around India’s West Bengal state and Bangladesh.
The evacuation is expected to continue into Wednesday morning. Bangladesh’s disaster management minister has told the BBC that they plan to evacuate about two million people to safety.
Extra shelters have been prepared to allow for social distancing. Masks are also being distributed.
State officials in India are also struggling to find shelters for evacuees. In Orissa, for instance, 250 of the more than 800 existing shelters are being used as coronavirus quarantine centers.
It is the second super cyclone on record that has formed over the Bay of Bengal, said Mrutyunjay Mohapatra, India’s meteorological chief. The first of that classification was the devastating 1999 cyclone in Odisha state that left nearly 10,000 dead
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi reviewed the country’s emergency response measures on Monday night, ahead of the storm’s landfall in India.
NDRF Director General Pradhan previously said 25 NDRF teams have been deployed to the region, with 12 others ready in reserve, and 24 other teams are also on standby in different parts of India.
Fishermen have been warned to remain onshore and not sail out for the next 24 hours by the Indian Meteorological Department.