Heavy rain and crashing waves were seen at Digha in West Bengal this morning as Cyclone Amphan, the fiercest storm over Bay of Bengal in years, advanced towards the Indian coast.
Amphan, which had developed into a super cyclone on Monday, has weakened into an extremely severe cyclonic storm, and officials at Digha hoped its intensity would reduce further after landfall.
As NDTV reported from Digha beach, big waves were a sign of the approaching storm. Digha is in East Midnapore, which is among the seven districts expected to take a direct hit from the cyclone.
Amphan is likely to strike the coast with winds at the speed of 180 kilometres per hour.
Over 50,000 have been evacuated to safety in the town, amid challenges posed by the need for physical distancing because of the coronavirus pandemic.
This is the first cyclone in the middle of a pandemic, officials said, talking of the dual challenge.
Kolkata, less than five hours from the beach town, also saw rain and winds in the morning. All operations have been suspended at Kolkata Airport till 5 am tomorrow. Only special flights are operating in the covid lockdown.
The Indian Meteorological Department, which has issued an "orange message" for West Bengal, warned of extensive damage in Kolkata, Hooghly, Howrah, South and North 24 Parganas and East Midnapore districts.
Markets are mostly closed in Kolkata and adjoining areas.
Heavy rain and gales are expected as the cyclone moves through Bengal.
The Indian Navy has despatched a diving team to help with relief or rescue operations.