- Amphan weakened to an "extremely severe cyclonic storm" on Tuesday
- More than three lakh people have been evacuated in Bengal
- Officials anticipate massive destruction when the cyclone strikes
Here are the top ten developments on Cyclone Amphan:
More than five lakh people have been evacuated to safety in Odisha and Bengal, National Disaster Response Force chief SN Pradhan said, adding that the storm is "a double challenge" for the country amid fight against coronavirus. "Forty-one teams of NDRF are on duty. Evacuating people is a double challenge. We have to ensure social distancing during these operations," Mr Pradhan told NDTV today.
In Kolkata, the airport has been shut till 5 am tomorrow after the city, close to the coast, was put on alert. Visuals showed strong winds and winds battering coastal parts including Paradip in Odisha and South 24 Paraganas in Bengal. Seven districts of Bengal are likely to face the direct impact of the cyclone.
A storm surge - as high as five metres above the astronomical tide - will inundate the low-lying coastal areas in Bengal, India Meteorological Department Director General Mrutyunjay Mohapatra has said.
Describing the vulnerable areas as "red plus zones", West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has said she would stay overnight in the control room tonight.
Those living near the coast have been warned against stepping out; fishermen have been warned to stay off coast. Mamata Banerjee said they should stay in till an all-clear was sounded on Thursday. "The tail-end of a cyclone can do worst damage, so people should not come out of their homes until they get an all-clear," she said, recalling that when Cyclone Fani hit last year, more died when the cyclone was leaving.
On Tuesday, Union Home Minister Amit Shah spoke to Chief Ministers of Bengal and Odisha - Mamata Banerjee and Naveen Patnaik - on phone, assuring them all the help from the central government.
In a statement, the Indian Meteorological Department has warned of flying objects, uprooting of electricity poles and boats getting torn away. The department says a storm surge of a height of about four-six metres above the astronomical tide will inundate the low-lying coastal areas in Bengal.
On Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had chaired a high-level meeting to review the response measures and preparedness to tackle the storm. "Reviewed the preparedness regarding the situation due to cyclone 'Amphan.' The response measures as well as evacuation plans were discussed. I pray for everyone's safety and assure all possible support from the Central Government," PM Modi tweeted after the meeting.
"Amphan", pronounced as "Um-pun", means sky. The name was given by Thailand in 2004, years ago. The storm is being constantly tracked by Doppler Weather Radar at Vishakhapatnam.
Odisha was hit by a super cyclone that left nearly 10,000 dead in 1999, eight years after a typhoon, tornadoes and flooding killed 1,39,000 in Bangladesh. While the storms' frequency and intensity have increased - blamed partly on climate change - deaths have fallen thanks to faster evacuations, better forecasting and more shelters, news agency AFP reported.