Amphan turns Super Cyclone, Odisha initiates evacuation

Cyclone Amphan
Satellite image taken from India Meteorological Department (IMD) at 16:20 IST showing Cyclone Amphan along the coastal areas of Bay of Bengal.

Bhubaneswar/Kolkata/New Delhi: Cyclone 'Amphan' intensified into a super cyclonic storm on Monday and is likely to move across the northeast Bay of Bengal, and cross the West Bengal and Bangladesh coasts between Digha and the Hatia island on May 20, the IMD said.

"Amphan" (pronounced UM-PN) had turned into an extremely severe cyclonic storm and gathered more strength over the Bay of Bengal while moving slowly towards the coast. It has now intensified further into a super cyclonic storm, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.

It is likely to move north-northeastwards and fast across the northwest Bay of Bengal, and cross the West Bengal and Bangladesh coasts between Digha and the Hatia island as a very severe cyclonic storm, the department said.

PM reviews response preparedness

Prime Minister Narendra Modi Monday chaired a high-level meeting to review the response preparedness against the cyclone .

The prime minister took full stock of the situation and reviewed the measures as well as the evacuation plan presented by the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), a statement from the Prime Minister's Office said.

During a presentation on the response plan, the NDRF director general informed that 25 NDRF teams have been deployed on the ground, while 12 others are ready in reserve.

Twenty-four other NDRF teams are also on standby in different parts of the country, the force chief told the meeting, the statement said.

Odisha, WB brace to fight cyclone 'Amphan' amid COVID crisis, NDRF deployed
A vehicle crushed under an uprooted tree following a storm in Coimbatore, Sunday, May 17, 2020. PTI

Cyclone 'Amphan' comes a year after cyclone Fani barrelled through vast areas of Odisha on May 3 last year, claiming at least 64 lives and destroying infrastructure in power, telecommunication, water supply and other vital sectors.

NDRF personnel deployed

S N Pradhan, the chief of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) said seven teams of the force have been deployed in West Bengal. These teams are in six districts - South 24 Parganas, North 24 Parganas, East Midnapore, West Midnapore, Howrah and Hooghly.

In Odisha, 10 teams have been deployed in seven districts - Puri, Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara, Jajpur, Bhadrak, Balasore and Mayurbhanj.

One team of NDRF consists of around 45 personnel.

Odisha has already chalked out the strategy to restore power and water supply, clear roads, start rescue and relief operations immediately after the cyclone peters out.

On migrants returning to the state and also travelling through it, Jena said that in view of the impending cyclone, the state government will stop road movement for three days from the evening of May 18 to May 20.

The district collectors have been asked to direct the border checkposts not to allow entry of anyone during the period, he said.

Unlike past cyclones when the evacuees were kept in large numbers at cyclone shelters, it will be different this time as around 11 lakh people will have to be accommodated while maintaining the social distancing guidelines in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, Jena said.

Cyclone Amphan
An uprooted tree damages a power line following a storm in Coimbatore, Sunday, May 17, 2020. PTI

Amphan, which is in the category of a very severe cyclonic storm, is most likely to intensify into an extremely severe cyclonic storm by Monday evening attaining a maximum wind speed of 170 to 180 kmph gusting to 200 kmph, Das said.

The system is very likely to lose some power as it approaches landfall.

Fishermen have been advised not to venture into north Bay of Bengal along and off West Bengal-Odisha coasts from May 18 to 21 and those who are out in the sea, were asked to return to shore by May 17.

West Bengal Home secretary Alapan Bandopdhyay said that the entire state machinery is prepared to deal with the situation.

Disaster management teams were dispatched to cyclone shelters in the coastal areas and other places for rescue and relief operations. Provisions have been made for maintaining social distancing norms at these shelters in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, he said.

The Indian Coast Guard (ICG) has also prepared itself for maritime search and rescue operations.

Odisha, WB brace to fight cyclone 'Amphan' amid COVID crisis, NDRF deployed
Marine police personnel patrol Puri beach to prevent tourists and fishermen from venturing into the sea due to Cyclone Amphan in Puri on Sunday. PTI

The railways said the AC special trains between New Delhi and Bhubaneswar will be diverted for four days from Monday. The trains will travel on diverted route via Bhubaneswar-Angul-Sambalpur City-Jharsuguda-Rourkela-Tata route, bypassing Bhadrak-Balasore-Hijli track during the period.

The National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC) met under Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba on Saturday to review the preparedness for minimising the loss of loss of lives and property at a time when the country is grappling with the coronavirus pandemic.

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