India and Bangladesh brace for massive cyclone

An uprooted tree lies in the middle of a road in the Bhadrak district in Odisha, India, 20 May 2020. Cyclone Amphan approaches through the Bay of Bengal and it is expected to make landfall on the West Bengal coast on 20 May. Mass evacuation has been going on to secure people as about 300,000 in the regions of Odisha and West Bengal are expected to be affected by Cyclone Amphan. EPA-EFE/STR

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Heavy rains and winds have been reported in eastern India and Bangladesh, with a super cyclone expected to make landfall in hours.

Amphan is one of the biggest storms in a decade, meteorologists warn. It is expected to hit the coast with winds gusting up to 185km/h (115mph) – the equivalent of a category five hurricane.

Officials in Bangladesh fear it will be the most powerful storm since Cyclone Sidr killed about 3,500 people in 2007. Most died as a result of sea water surging in.

Cyclone Amphan developed
Dark rain clouds as cyclonic storm Amphan is expected to hit the Bengal in Kolkata, Eastern India. EPA-EFE/PIYAL ADHIKARY

While the storm’s current wind speed is likely to reduce slightly before it makes landfall, India’s weather department is predicting the surge of water caused could be as high as 10-16 feet (3-5 metres).

Both countries have evacuated millions of people in preparation for Cyclone Amphan, which is approaching from the Bay of Bengal.

India’s weather department tweeted that Amphan was on course to make landfall “between afternoon and evening”.

The coronavirus outbreak is making it harder for officials in both countries.

India and Bangladesh have asked for schools and other buildings to be turned into temporary shelters – but they need more than usual, in order to house people while maintaining social distancing.

Police in India’s West Bengal state, which is expected to be badly affected by the storm, said that people were unwilling to go to the shelters because they were afraid of contracting Covid-19.

Read more via BBC


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