Extremely severe cyclonic storm Amphan’ made landfall at Digha in West Bengal on Wednesday, leaving a trail of destruction which led to the death of two persons in the state.
The cyclone with a wind speed of 160-170 kmph, gusting to 190 kmph coupled with heavy rain hit the Digha coast in East Medinipur district around 2.30 pm, officials said.
Two women were killed in Howrah district and Minakhan area of North 24 Parganas district due to uprooting of trees, an official said.
The landfall process would continue for four hours, bringing in its wake heavy rain and triggering three-five metres of tidal waves, the MeT department said.
The cyclone barreled through coastal districts of West Bengal, unleashing copious rain and windstorm, blowing away thatched houses, uprooting trees, electric poles and swamping low lying towns and villages, officials said.
The cyclone’s impact was felt in Kolkata as a medium to heavy rainfall was recorded, and several trees and electric poles were uprooted, causing power cut and road blockade in many areas.
Continuous downpour since the early hours of Wednesday led to waterlogging in some streets and low-lying areas of the metropolis.
The cyclone is likely to weaken and move through Nadia and Murshidabad districts as a cyclonic storm and then into Bangladesh as a deep depression on Thursday morning, the meteorological department said.
Despite losing its force since Tuesday, the storm that was earlier categorised as super cyclone’ still had enough strength to ravage large parts of coastal Bengal with the Sunderbans, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, being badly hit.
The cyclone is still on and will continue for a few more hours. We are assessing the situation, a senior state official said.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who is camping at state secretariat Nabanna since Tuesday night, reviewed the situation and gave necessary instructions to her officials.
West Bengal has so far shifted more than 3 lakh people to safer places.
Given the COVID-19 pandemic, the government has distributed more than 2 lakh masks among the evacuees, and personal protective equipment (PPE) kits have been handed out to the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) personnel who have been deployed in the vulnerable areas, a senior official said.
North 24 Parganas and East Midnapore districts are two COVID-19 hotspots with a large number of positive cases reported.
The state has put the coastal districts of East Midnapore, North and South 24 Parganas, including the Sundarbans on high alert, Disaster Management Minister Javed Khan said.
A team of Indian Navy divers has been stationed at Diamond Harbour in South 24 Parganas district with specialised equipment and can be rushed for rescue missions as and when required, a defence spokesman said.
The cyclone, officials fear, will cause large-scale damage to crops and plantations, and disrupt electricity and communication lines.
The Eastern Railway (ER) has cancelled the departure of Howrah-New Delhi AC Special Express train scheduled for Wednesday. The New Delhi-Howrah AC Special Express on Thursday has also been cancelled, railway officials said.
Cargo and evacuation flight operations at the Kolkata airport have been suspended till 5 am of Thursday due to the cyclonic storm, airport officials said.