- “The extreme severe cyclonic storm Ampan will completely enter land by 7 pm."
- Dozens of people living along the coastal areas in both India and Bangladesh have been evacuated.
- The coronavirus has made evacuation and sheltering difficult.
The coastal towns in India and Bangladesh have experienced heavy rains and strong winds as Cyclone Amphan is expected to make landfall. “The first arm of Cyclone Amphanhas touched down. The eye of the Cyclone is expected to touch land any time soon,” said Mrutyunjay Mohapatra, India’s Meteorological Department Director General.
“The extreme severe cyclonic storm Ampan will completely enter land by 7 pm. The Cyclone is currently moving at a speed of 25-30 kilometers per hour. Winds with a speed of 155-165 kilometers per hour have been blowing in south and north Parganas and East Medinipur districts of Bengal,” Mohapatra added.
Dozens of people living along the coastal areas in both India and Bangladesh have been evacuated, although some of them were reluctant for fear of contracting the coronavirus in the shelters. Authorities struggled to find shelters for evacuees, opting to turn schools and other buildings to temporary shelters so as to observe the social distance measure and curb the spread of the virus at the crucial time. Most of the shelters have been used as quarantine centers.
Authorities had said that in Bangladesh, the cyclone is expected to cause heavy rains and floods in Cox’s Bazar refugee camps that are homes to many refugees. However, an official at the camp said they were prepared. “For the cyclone we are prepared. We have tightened the huts of the refugees,” the official said. “All 32 camps have trained volunteers ready. We have mosques and other learning centres if we need to relocate the refugee for safety.”
The refugee camps recorded the first case of coronavirus last week. This poses a great challenge in terms of containing the virus, as well as ensuring that the people are safe from the storm.
Cyclone Amphan, that formed at the Bay of Bengal, is headed to for the India-Bangladesh border, and is said to have strengthened to the equivalent of a strong category 4 hurricane. West Bengal, Odisha, and other coastal areas are on high alert for the Cyclone, which is set to make a land fall on Wednesday.
Amphan will be the first storm in the Bay of Bengal since the 2007 Cyclone Sidr that occurred in the region, killing more than 3,000 people. Authorities have warned that cyclone Amphan could be worse than Cyclone Sidr. Another super cyclone hit Odisha and killed more than 9,000 people in 1999.
The country’s meteorological department has warned fishermen against venturing into the South Bay and North Bay of Bengal. The department warned of rough seas adding that a very severe cyclonic storm is expected to across the region.
The cyclone comes at times when tens of thousands of migrants are returning home from big cities due to the national lockdown to prevent the spread of coronavirus that has rendered them jobless. Most of the migrant workers have in recent days returned to West Bengal and Odisha, the areas that have been placed on high alert due to the cyclone.
Odisha has cancelled trains that were set to arrive with thousands of the migrants between May 18 and 20.