Three persons were killed as super cyclonic storm Amphan made landfall near Sagar Islands in South 24 Parganas district of West Bengal on Wednesday, while a baby died in Bhadrak district of Odisha and a woman drowned in Kendrapara.
Thousands of kutcha houses in the coastal parts of West Bengal were damaged. Embankments were breached in the low-level areas because of the massive storm surge. Preliminary reports said one person each died in Minakha and Basirhat of North 24 Parganas district and a third in Howrah.
According to the Regional Meteorological Centre at Alipore in Kolkata, the landfall started at 2.30 p.m. and continued till 7 p.m. The landfall was reported near Sagar Island of the Sunderbans between Digha in Purba Medinipur and Hatia in Bangladesh.
Sanjib Bandyopadhyay, a senior official at the Alipore centre, said wind speeds of 150-160 km per hour were recorded in the coastal areas after the cyclone made a landfall. In Kolkata, wind speeds of 112 km per hour were recorded.
Heavy rainfall was reported across all districts of south Bengal. The super cyclone was one of the fiercest the State has witnessed in recent years — more powerful than Bulbul (2019) and Aila (2009).
“The trajectory of Amphan is conforming to what we have been forecasting,” M. Mohapatra, Director-General of the India Meteorological Department, said at a press briefing in New Delhi.
In pictures: Cyclone Amphan makes landfall
Electricity supply was disrupted in certain coastal areas after electric poles were uprooted by strong winds. In other districts of south Bengal, there were reports of old houses collapsing and trees being uprooted. The storm surge in the coastal areas of South 24 Parganas and North 24 Parganas was predicted to be about four to five metres above the astronomical tide level, which would inundate low-level areas in the Sunderbans.
The weather office has predicted that the cyclonic storm will remain over Gangetic West Bengal in different intensities till Thursday morning. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, along with senior officials, was monitoring the situation at the State Secretariat.
Heavy damage: Mamata
“Entire south Bengal is hit. South Bengal is finished. I would request [the Centre] to provide humanitarian relief and not to engage in any politics,” said Ms. Banerjee.
The West Bengal government has evacuated three lakh people, two lakh from South 24 Parganas alone.
Restrictions have been imposed on the movement of people in Kolkata and adjoining areas, and ferry services have been suspended in the Hooghly. The Kolkata Airport has suspended the movement of cargo flights for Wednesday.
Two lives were lost and power infrastructure was damaged as four coastal districts bore the brunt of the cyclone in Odisha. A three-month-old child died when a wall collapsed in Tihidi block of Bhadrak district. A woman drowned when she had gone for fishing in Kendrapara district.
Thousands of trees were uprooted and power infrastructure flattened as gusty wind blew over coastal districts. Balasore, Kendrapara, Jagatsinghpur and Bhadrak districts were severely affected.
According to a preliminary assessment, 65 33-KV feeders have been affected, impacting 19,38,382 power consumers in Balasore, Bhadrak, Jajpur, Mayurbhanj, Jagatsinghpur and Kendrapara districts. The State government was yet to confirm any death.
As for telecommunication, 90% of the telecom towers were found intact, the Special Relief Commissioner’s office said. From the late evening of Tuesday, most coastal districts and some interior areas had started recording heavy rain and strong wind. In the morning, while Dhamra recorded the highest wind speed of 120 kmph, Paradip followed with 106 kmph. The IMD measured wind speed at 91 kmph in Balasore.
By afternoon, the intensity of rain and wind velocity started to drop. In Kendrapara and Jagatsinghpur, people left for their homes from cyclone shelters. In Balasore district, where the impact continued till evening, people remained in shelters. Twenty units of the National Disaster Response Force, 16 teams of the Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force and 231 fire service units were deployed for rescue operation.
( With inputs from Jacob Koshy in New Delhi )