The ‘Very Severe Cyclonic Storm’ Yaas that made landfall south of Balasore in Odisha on Wednesday tore into the bordering regions of West Bengal and Odisha and weakened into a cyclonic storm, leaving behind a trail of destruction in its wake on the eastern coast.
Five persons were killed — four in Odisha and one in West Bengal.
In pictures | Cyclone Yaas uproots life
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said one crore people had been affected and about 15 lakh people had been evacuated and housed in shelters.
National Disaster Response Force and Army personnel joined the rescue and relief operations.
In Odisha, 128 villages in Balasore and Bhadrak districts were inundated following seawater ingression. The cyclone caused extensive damage to power transmission lines in coastal areas. Hundreds of thatched houses were ravaged.
Yaas battered the tree cover while passing through Balasore and Mayurbhanj districts. Thousands of big trees were uprooted.
According to the India Meteorological Department, the storm crossed the north Odisha coast about 20 km south of Balasore between 10.30 a.m. and 11.30 a.m. with estimated wind speeds of 130-140 kmph. The cyclone hit the coast with far less intensity than what was predicted.
By afternoon, the cyclonic storm moved away from Balasore and entered Mayurbhanj district, triggering heavy rain. The system is expected to enter Jharkhand as a cyclone.
6.5 lakh evacuated
In Odisha, coastal districts of Balasore, Bhadrak, Kendrapara and Jagatsinghpur and northern Mayurbhanj district were affected. The State had already evacuated about 6.5 lakh people, including 1.52 lakh in Balasore, 1.20 lakh in Bhadrak and 1 lakh in Mayurbhanj district.
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Special Relief Commissioner Pradeep Kumar Jena said the extent of damage was being assessed. Collectors of Balasore and Keonjhar had confirmed two deaths, he said.
As predicted by the IMD, tidal surge was observed above four metres in Balasore and Bhadrak.
“Inundation was reported in the Dhamra area of Bhadrak district and Bahanaga, Remuna, Baliapal and Balasore town of Balasore district. People had cut roads at several places to discharge water. The embankments would be repaired soon,” said Mr. Jena.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik announced seven days of relief for all families of 128 marooned villages and directed restoration of all major roads and 80% restoration of electricity supply in affected districts in 24 hours.
According to Mr. Jena, 295 roads out of 305 belonging to the Public Works Department and 200 out of 300 roads of the Rural Development department were restored by evening.
The Similipal Biosphere in Mayurbhanj received 146 mm of rain. According to the IMD, heavy to very heavy rainfall has been predicted at a few places over Balasore, Bhadrak, Jajpur, Kendrapada, Jagatsinghpur, Cuttack, Mayurbhanj, Keonjhar and Dhenkanal, with isolated extremely heavy fall very likely to occur over the districts of Jajpur, Mayurbhanj, Keonjhar and Dhenkanal on Thursday.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said three lakh houses had been damaged due to the cyclonic storrm.
Large parts of Digha, Tajpur and Haldia town in Purba Medinipur district (district bordering Odisha) along with several areas in the Sunderbans were inundated. Experts and the Chief Minister said the combined effects of the full moon tide and the cyclone led to breaching of embankments in South 24 Parganas and Purba Medinipur districts. Ms. Banerjee said there were reports of breach of embankments at 134 places in the State.
“There has been extensive damage to agriculture due to ingress of saline water. Allied sectors such as fisheries, horticulture have suffered damage, but we will be able to estimate the complete situation in 72 hours,” she said, keeping a watch on the cyclone from the administration headquarters Nabanna for two days in a row.
Several villages in the coastal areas of West Bengal’s South 24 Parganas district, including Namkhana, Kakdwip, Frasergunj, Dhankhali, Sandeshkhali lay submerged. At Sagar Island, seawater reached the Kapil Muni temple, a few hundred metres away from the coast. The rural areas of Purba Medinipur district in Nandigram and Contai were waterlogged.
In Howrah, several villages were submerged in the Amta and Shyampur areas. After the cyclone, people were seen wading through deep water carrying children and cattle to safer places.
While the damage was less and Kolkata was largely spared by the cyclone impact on this occasion, roofs of resorts were blown off, trees were uprooted, and massive waves swept over the coastal areas. Meanwhile, the State government has advised power distribution companies to suspend supply in waterlogged areas.
One death was reported in Purba Medinipur due to accidental drowning, when a villager, rescued by the administration, went fishing during the cyclone. Ms. Banerjee thanked the people for cooperating with “one of the biggest evacuations” carried out in a span of a few days. She also urged people residing in areas close to the river to remain alert during high tide.
According to the State government, people were housed at 4,000 flood centres.
The IMD had predicted heavy rainfall at isolated places over West Midnapore, Jhargram, Bankura, Purulia, East Medinipur and West Burdwan districts along with squally winds of 70-80 kmph gusting to 90 kmph over Jhargram, West Midnapore, Bankura, Purulia and West Burdwan districts.
During the day, along with the State administration, more than 35 teams of the National Disaster Response Force helped in rescuing people stranded in waterlogged areas of Purba Medinipur and South 24 Parganas. Seventeen columns of the Army, deployed in 10 districts of the State, also lent a hand in rescue work.