Super cyclone ''Amphan'' weakened into an extremely severe cyclonic storm on Tuesday as it moved closer to the coast, triggering rainfall in several parts of Odisha and West Bengal, where the state governments stepped up efforts to evacuate people in vulnerable areas, said a weather department official.
National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) chief SN Pradhan today told reporters they face the "double challenge" of the coronavirus pandemic and a natural disaster. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said she will ask the railways to stop running special "Shramik" trains for migrants to the state till Thursday. The cyclonic storm is likely to cross West Bengal's Digha and Bangladesh's Hatiya tomorrow.
Three lakh people have been evacuated from coastal areas in West Bengal, Ms Banerjee said today. "All precautionary measures are taken to deal with any eventuality arising out of the super cyclone. I had a word with Home Minister Amit Shah regarding it. At least three lakh people have been evacuated from three coastal districts of the state and moved to relief shelters," she told reporters.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday chaired a high-level meeting after two states - Odisha and West Bengal - were alerted about Cyclone Amphan, which may hit Bengal tomorrow, according to the weather office.
A "very heavy rain" warning has also been issued in some states in the northeast.
Here are the live updates on Cyclone Amphan:
Super Cyclone Amphan, likely to make landfall in West Bengal tomorrow afternoon, has weakened into an extremely severe cyclonic storm, triggering heavy rain and gusts of wind in Odisha and rain in some parts of Bengal. National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) chief SN Pradhan today told reporters they face the "double challenge" of the coronavirus pandemic and a natural disaster. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said she will ask the railways to stop running special "Shramik" trains for migrants to the state till Thursday. The cyclonic storm is likely to cross West Bengal's Digha and Bangladesh's Hatiya tomorrow.
BJP president J P Nadda today asked his party members to join in evacuation and relief operations in states being hit by super cyclone Amphan, and urged them to do so in cooperation with the local administration.
Mr Nadda, a statement said, discussed important aspects of the relief and evacuation plan with senior BJP leaders of Odisha, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, through video conference, reported news agency PTI.
"Super cyclone Amphan is heading towards coastal region of Orissa, West Bengal, partially touching Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. PM chaired a high-level meeting yesterday. A clear directive was given to BJP workers to cooperate in relief operations and evacuation process of people," Mr Nadda said.
Super Cyclone Amphan will turn into an "extremely severe" cyclonic storm when it makes landfall in West Bengal tomorrow, the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) chief SN Pradhan told reporters today, adding they face the "double challenge" of the coronavirus pandemic and a natural disaster. The cyclone is likely to make landfall tomorrow afternoon, Mr Pradhan said. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said she will ask the railways to stop running special "Shramik" trains for migrants to the state till Thursday. The cyclone is likely to cross West Bengal's Digha and Bangladesh's Hatiya tomorrow after further weakening into a "very severe cyclonic storm"." itemprop="description
As Cyclone Amphan is approaching, the Odisha government has started the process to broadcast an SMS based alert system and play tower siren to evacuate people in the districts, which are expected to suffer the most due to the cyclone, said State Special Relief Commissioner (SRC), Pradeep Jena, on Tuesday.
"The cyclone has already demonstrated its earliest signature in Bhubaneswar. We were informed that it is raining in Paradep and in some other areas. The evacuation process has started. We are also starting to broadcast an SMS alert system to all these districts. We will also start our location-based alert system in the afternoon. We will run siren and give messages," Mr Jena said.
"The cyclone will have some wind action today all along with the coastal districts. Cyclonic storm Amphan lays over 470 km down south of Paradeep. It is likely to make landfall in between Digha, West Bengal and Hatiya Islands, Bangladesh on May 20 between afternoon and evening," he added.
Amphan weakened into an extremely severe cyclonic storm over the west-central Bay of Bengal Tuesday afteroon as it rolled towards the Indian shores in West Bengal and Odisha where lakhs of people were evacuated from vulnerable areas and shifted to safety, officials said.
The two states are on high alert, as the cyclone, cramming high-velocity winds, triggered rains in several parts of Odisha.
An India Meteorological Department (IMD) bulletin said the cyclone lay centred over west-central Bay of Bengal, about 520 km south of Paradip in Odisha and 670 km south-southwest of Digha in West Bengal. It was moving north-northeastwards at a speed of 14 kmph.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said around three lakh people have been evacuated from the coastal areas in the state.
The evacuees, she said, have been shifted to cyclone shelters.
Authorities, however, were mindful of the difficulty they could face in ensuring social distancing norms at these shelters in the state which has witnessed a surge in COVID-19 cases over the last few days.
With cyclone Amphan set to lash coastal areas of Bengal on May 20, the forest department on Tuesday formed rapid response teams to ensure that tigers from Sundarbans in South 24 Parganas district do not stray into nearby human settlements after the landfall.
Chief Wildlife Warden Ravi Kant Sinha said a control room has been set up at Gosaba area in the district by the forest department to monitor the situation in the mangrove jungles 24x7.
The department's central control room in Salt Lake area will be in constant touch with the Gosaba unit and keep a close watch on wildlife movement in the forest, reported news agency PTI.
If there are attempts by tigers to stray from the core reserve area into the contiguous villages, we will be able to notice that from the two control rooms and our rapid response teams will take steps to send back the animal to its habitat," he explained.
The response teams have been deployed in Sajnekhali and Jharkhali areas of South 24 Parganas with tranquiliser guns, net and speed boats to negotiate the creeks crisscrossing the forest.
Asked if there were chances of depletion in tiger prey base such as the deer population if the cyclone ravages the coastal areas of the state, Mr Sinha said, "Measures will be taken depending on the situation."
At least three lakh people have been evacuated from coastal areas of West Bengal in view of the impending super cyclonic storm ''Amphan'' and all steps have been taken to deal with any eventuality arising out of it, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said on Tuesday
Ms Banerjee said she and senior state government officials are directly monitoring the situation and announced several helpline numbers.
"All precautionary measures are taken to deal with any eventuality arising out of the super cyclone. I had a word with Union Home Minister Amit Shah regarding it. At least three lakh people have been evacuated from three coastal districts of the state and moved to relief shelters," she told a press conference in Bengal.
The evacuees have been shifted to cyclone shelters and all other precautions are being taken, Ms Banerjee said.
"During the cyclone, the wind speed will be high which which is likely to damage telecom towers and power supply. Department of telecommunication has made a plan to deal with these issues," said Telecom Secretary Anshu Prakash.
"We will be prepared to repair any damages to towers, cables. Teams are being stationed for this," he added.
Bangladesh has temporarily shut down ferry services on several major routes around the country as the super cyclone Amphan approaches.
Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Corporation (BIWTC) said the routes include Paturia-Doulatdia, Shimulia-Kathalbari, Chandpur-Shariatpur, Bhola-Lakshmipur, and Bheduria-Laharhat, according to a report quoted by news agency ANI.
"The super cyclone Amphan over the west-central bay and adjoining area moved North-North-eastwards and now lies over the same area (lat.16.8degn, long.86.9dege) and was centered at 12 noon today (May 19) about 810 km southwest of Chattogram port, 765 km Southwest of Cox''s Bazar port, 695 km South-southwest of Mongla port and 690 km south-southwest of Payra port," Bangladesh Meteorological Department (BMD) said in a special bulletin on Tuesday.
Amphan is likely to move in a North-North-easterly direction and may cross Bangladesh coast between Khulna-Chattogram during late night May 19 to afternoon/evening May 20, the BMD said.
The National Disaster Response Force said cyclone Amphan will be extremely severe cyclonic storm when it makes landfall on May 20 and that its hit potential remains strong.
Amphan is the most intense cyclone - the second super cyclone - which has been formed in Bay of Bengal after 1999. Its wind speed in the sea right now is 200-240 kmph. It is moving towards north northwestward direction, said India Meteorological Department chief Mrutyunjay Mohapatra.
"We've kept additional backup. 6 NDRF Battalions - 11, 9, 1, 10, 4, 5 have been identified for it. 11 battalion is in Varanasi, 9 in Patna, 1 in Guwahati, 10 in Vijaywada, 4 in Arakkonam&5 battalion in Pune. They have military airports and troops can be brought on short notice. Every Battalion has 4 teams, so there are 24 teams on standby," said the NDRF chief.
"15 teams are deployed in Odisha. They are carrying out awareness drives, communication drives, and evacuation. 19 teams are deployed in West Bengal, 2 in standby there. We are facing a dual challenge right now - COVID-19 and cyclone," said National Disaster Response Force Chief SN Pradhan.
The Tripura government has on Tuesday directed its district officials to take necessary measures to prepare for the approaching Cyclone Amphan.
The government's directions came after IMD Agartala forecast thunderstorm accompanied by lightning, gusty wind speed reaching 40-50 kilometres per hour and heavy rainfall at isolated placed in all districts on May 20 and 21, reported news agency ANI.
"As such, there is no warning of the high impact of Amphan to Tripura but there is no certainty of movement of the exact path of the cyclone as predicted by IMD. Hence, the administration may be prepared to handle if there is any high impact to this cyclone," the government said a statement.
The state control room and district control rooms are being informed periodically about the movement of the cyclone.
The government has directed officials to be alert to the situation and "accordingly take necessary preparedness measures as per your district".
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi today appealed to his party workers in West Bengal and Odisha to warn people of the danger posed by Cyclone Amphan and help them reach safer places.
"Cyclone Amphan is coming in the country amid the corona crisis. I appeal to all Congress workers of West Bengal and Odisha to warn people of the danger and help to bring people to safer places. Be safe!" Mr Gandhi said in a tweet.
Earlier today, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) had issued a warning regarding Cyclone Amphan and said that it is likely to move towards West Bengal as an extremely severe cyclonic storm tomorrow.
The super cyclone Amphan is being continuously tracked by the Doppler Weather Radar (DWR) at Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh, IMD said.
It has also warned fishermen not to venture into the sea till May 21.
The Border Security Force (BSF) has moved its three floating border posts or ships and 45 other patrol boats deployed to guard the India-Bangladesh riverine front in the Sunderbans and Icchamati river in West Bengal to safe anchorage in view of the cyclonic storm ''Amphan'', officials said.
These vessels are used by the south Bengal frontier of the border force to guard about 350 kms of the riverine border in this area.
The BSF protects over 930 kms of the International Border under this frontier that includes 110 kms of the Sunderbans, Estuary Point, Icchamati river and Panitar, where the land and riverine borders of the two countries meet.
The three floating border posts or ships, 45 other patrol and mechanised boats have been moved for safe anchorage in view of cyclone ''Amphan''.
The weather department has predicted a storm surge to the right of the storm's center, where onshore winds will be maximized, to reach a staggering 13 to 16 feet (four to five meters), with waves riding on top of that.
The storm surge is the storm-driven rise in water above normally dry land.
Sea level rise due to climate change already is making storm surge flooding more damaging in coastal areas around the world, and Bangladesh is considered to be among the most vulnerable areas for increasingly devastating storm surges.
Rain hit some parts of Odisha on Tuesday as super cyclone Amphan moved closer to the coasts, while the state government stepped up efforts to evacuate low-lying and vulnerable areas, officials said.
In the morning, Amphan lay centred over west-central Bay of Bengal, about 520 km south of Paradip (Odisha), 670 km south-southwest of Digha (West Bengal) and 800 km south-southwest of Khepupara in Bangladesh, said H R Biswas, the director of Meteorological Centre, Bhubaneswar.
It is likely to weaken in to an extremely severe cyclonic storm, move north-northeastwards over Bay of Bengal and cross West Bengal-Bangladesh coasts between Digha and Hatiya Islands during Wednesday afternoon or evening as a very severe cyclonic storm with maximum sustained wind speed of 155-165 kmph gusting to 180 kmph, he said.
The weather department today said the super cyclone is expected to cause damage in Odisha's Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara, Bhadrak, Balasore, Jajpur and Mayurbhanj.
Total destruction of thatched houses/ extensive damage to kutcha houses. Potential threat from flying objects.
Bending/ uprooting of power and communication poles.
Major damage to Kutcha and Pucca roads. Minor disruption of railways, overhead power lines and signalling systems.
Widespread damage to standing crops, plantations, orchards, falling of green coconuts and tearing of palm fronds. Blowing down of bushy trees like mango.
Small boats, country crafts may get detached from moorings.
The weather department today said the super cyclone is expected to cause damage in West Bengal's east Medinipur, south & north 24 Parganas, Howrah, Hoogli and Kolkata districts
Extensive damage to all types of kutcha houses, some damage to old badly managed Pucca structures. Potential threat from flying objects.
Extensive uprooting of communication and power poles.
Disruption of rail/road link at several places.
Extensive damage to standing crops, plantations, orchards.
Blowing down of Palm and coconut trees.
Uprooting of large bushy trees.
Large boats and ships may get torn from their moorings.
Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba will chair a meeting of the National Crisis Monitoring Committee today regarding Cyclone Amphan.
Apart from the readiness of NDRF and defence forces, power and telecommunications departments have been directed to be prepared with emergency response, reported news agency ANI.
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) on Tuesday issued a warning regarding Cyclone Amphan and said that it is likely to move towards West Bengal as an extremely severe cyclonic storm tomorrow.
"It is very likely to move north-northeastwards across the northwest Bay of Bengal and cross West Bengal - Bangladesh coasts between Digha (West Bengal) and Hatiya Islands (Bangladesh) close to Sundarbans during the afternoon or evening of May 20, 2020, as an extremely severe cyclonic storm with a maximum sustained wind speed of 165-175 kmph gusting to 195 kmph," an IMD official said.
It has also warned fishermen not to venture into the sea up to May 21.
Home Minister Amit Shah spoke to Chief Ministers of West Bengal and Odisha -- Mamata Banerjee and Navin Patnaik respectively -- and assured them of all possible help to deal with the situation arising out of the super cyclone ''Amphan'', officials said.
During the telephonic conversation with Ms Banerjee, Mr Shah took stock of the situation in West Bengal, where the cyclone is expected to make landfall on Wednesday.
The Home Minister assured the chief minister of all possible help to deal with the situation arising due to the cyclone ''Amphan'', a home ministry official said.
In his phone call with Mr Patnaik, Mr Shah reviewed the situation in Odisha and assured him of the necessary assistance from the central government to tide over the situation.
The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has issued a warning to suspend all fishing activities in Bengal and Odisha till May 20, in the wake of super cyclone Amphan.
The Super Cyclonic AMPHAN at 2330 hrs IST of 18 th May, 2020 near latitude 14.9°N and longitude 86.5°E over Westcentral Bay of Bengal about 600 km nearly south of Paradip (Odisha), 750 km south-southwest of Digha (West Bengal) pic.twitter.com/cNSdwLEkq0- India Met. Dept. (@Indiametdept) May 18, 2020
It's very likely to weaken into an extremely severe cyclonic storm during next 6 hrs. It's very likely to move north northeastwards across northwest Bay of Bengal&cross W Bengal-Bangladesh coasts b/w Digha&Hatiya Islands close to Sundarbans during afternoon/evening of 20 May: IMD https://t.co/bGpOI9c4OW- ANI (@ANI) May 19, 2020