The governments of West Bengal and Odisha worked overtime on Tuesday (May 19) to evacuate lakhs of people from coastal and low-lying areas to shelters as Cyclone Amphan - moving at a speed of 180 km/hr - is predicted to make landfall between Digha in West Bengal and Hatiya islands in Bangladesh on Wednesday (May 20).
According to latest bulletin of Indian Meterologial Department (IMD), Cyclone Amphan was around 210 km nearly south of Paradip (Odisha) and it was expected to cross West Bengal-Bangladesh coasts between Digha and Hatiya Islands close to Sundarbans during afternoon to evening hours of May 20.
The IMD also said that Cyclone Amphan has now lost its strength and has turned into a Super Cyclone from an Extremely Severe Cyclonic Storm. It will have a wind speed ranging between 155–165 km/hr when it makes landfall on Wednesday. Heavy rains lashed some parts of Odisha on Tuesday evening, including Paradip as cyclone Amphan moved closer to the coast.
IMD Director-General Mrutyunjay Mohapatra said since the cyclone is gradually weakening, its impact is unlikely to be very severe in Odisha. But coastal districts like Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara, Bhadrak and Balasore would receive heavy rains.
A total of 41 teams of the NDRF have been deployed in several districts of West Bengal and Odisha. 15 NDRF teams are deployed and five are in reserve in seven districts of Odisha, while 19 teams were actively deployed and two in reserve in six West Bengal districts, its chief SN Pradhan said.
Keeping in mind the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, the governments of West Bengal and Odisha have distributed lakhs of masks among the evacuees and PPEs have been handed out to SDRF personnel deployed in the vulnerable area.
Assam government has also issued a high alert over the Cyclone Amphan and directed the state disaster management authority to set up control room to deal with the situation. Meghalaya CM Conrad K Sangma also chaired a meeting to review the state's preparedness in view of Cyclone Amphan.
A defence official said in Kolkata that the Indian Navy has dispatched a diving team for providing assistance to the West Bengal government in rescue operations.