A powerful cyclone headed east India on Tuesday, forcing the evacuation of nearly two million people just a week after another massive storm left at least 155 people dead on the west coast.
Cyclone Yaas in the Bay of Bengal is expected to hit the states of West Bengal and Odisha around noon on Wednesday, the Indian Meteorological Department said, and could bring winds of up to 165 kilometers (100 miles) per hour.
Experts say that the warming of ocean waters due to climate change has led to an increase in the frequency and intensity of these storms.
Nearly two million people living along India’s east coast are being moved to shelters, officials said on Tuesday, and the storm also halted efforts to tackle the devastating Covid-19 outbreak in the country.
“This cyclone is a terrible blow to many people in coastal districts whose families have been stricken with infections and deaths from Covid-19,” West Bengal Sundarbans Development Minister Bankim told AFP. Chandra Hazra.
“Almost half a million people are being evacuated from their homes in the coastal region (of West Bengal) and it is a big challenge to provide them with shelter (while) maintaining social distancing.
Some vaccination centers in threatened districts as well as in the capital Kolkata would suspend operations, officials said, and efforts were underway to ensure the supply of oxygen and medicine to hospitals during the storm.
# photo1 Some 1.4 million people have been displaced from coastal districts of neighboring Odisha, with thousands of relief and disaster personnel deployed, local media reported.
Special state relief commissioner Pradeep Jena said arrangements were being made to maintain social distancing in shelters, with face masks and disinfectants provided.
Officials in Bangladesh, which is east of West Bengal, said they did not expect the storm to hit the delta nation.
The Bay of Bengal presents favorable conditions for the development of cyclones, including high sea surface temperatures.
Some of the deadliest storms in history formed there, including one in 1970 that killed half a million people in what is now Bangladesh.
Odisha’s worst cyclone in 1999 killed 10,000 people.
© 2021 AFP