Cyclone Yaas weakens after lashing Odisha, Bengal coasts; heavy rains forecast
Cyclone Yaas, which made landfall in Odisha’s Bhadrak district on Wednesday morning, has weakened into a severe cyclonic storm after battering Odisha and West Bengal with a wind speed of 130-145kmph, inundating the low-lying areas amid a storm surge, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said. The weather bureau said in a statement that the wind speed surged as high as 155 kilometres in some areas and sea levels of more than 2 meters above regular tides inundated several low-lying areas.
Yaas, which was earlier classified as a very severe cyclonic storm, hit the coast north of Dhamra in Odisha's Bhadrak district and 50km south of Balasore, close to Bahanaga block, around 9am, weather officials said. The landfall process was over around 1.30pm, they added.
Houses damaged, millions affected
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee told reporters Cyclone Yaas destroyed more than 300,000 houses and affected 10 million people in the state even as about 1.5 million residents were evacuated to safer areas. Banerjee said river embankments have been breached, damaging some crops and fisheries and livestock farms. She claimed that West Bengal was the most affected state due to the cyclone and that relief material worth ₹10 crore were sent to the affected areas. "At least one crore people in Bengal have been affected by this natural disaster. As of now, 300,000 houses have been damaged. One person died an accidental death even after he was rescued," the chief minister said.
Odisha's special relief commissioner PK Jena said seawater entered several villages in Bahanaga and Remuna blocks in the Balasore district, and Dhamra and Basudevpur in the Bhadrak district. Jena said the administration with the help of the locals is taking measures to drain out the saline water from the villages. Authorities in Mayurbhanj district have started evacuating certain vulnerable points on both sides of the river and also from some low-lying areas in the Baripada town, he said. Restoration works for power lines have started in some places in Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara and Jajpur district after cables were snapped, Jena said, adding that not much damage was caused in these districts.
Two people were reportedly killed in Odisha as very severe cyclonic storm Yaas made landfall near a coastal village in Balasore. Reports said that several boats, shops and houses were damaged in the state and scores of trees were uprooted. Odisha moved more than 500,000 people to relief centres where authorities have asked people to maintain social distancing to check the spread of the coronavirus disease.
Jharkhand continued evacuating low-lying areas amid the forecast that the cyclone would be hitting the state by midnight, officials in Ranchi said. East Singhbhum, West Singhbhum and Saraikela-Kharsawan districts of the state are likely to witness "very high seas" situation with wind speed of 92-117kmph, the weather office said. "We are ready to deal with the situation and have formed rescue teams," director general of police Neeraj Sinha told PTI.
Airports shut, trains cancelled
Cyclone Yaas impacted several flights in the affected states as airports in Kolkata and Durgapur in West Bengal and Odisha’s Bhubaneswar, Jharsuguda and Rourkela will remain shut for commercial flights. "The closure will be reviewed as per the weather. Airports directed to carry restoration to restart operations ASAP,” Airports Authority of India (AAI) said in a series of tweets.
Indian Railways said more than 30 passenger trains have been cancelled till May 29. "38 long-distance South-bound and Kolkata-bound passenger trains will remain cancelled from May 24 to 29...The Railways authority will refund the ticket charges of the passengers," the North East Frontier Railway said in a statement.
Also watch: Cyclone Yaas pounds Odisha-Bengal coasts, IMD says may reach Jharkhand
The weather bureau has predicted extremely heavy rainfall in West Bengal’s East and West Midnapore districts and heavy to very heavy rainfall in Jhargram, Bankura, South 24 Parganas districts over the next 24 hours. It added that heavy rain will occur at isolated places in Purulia, Nadia, Murshidabad, Purba Bardhaman, Howrah, Hooghly, Kolkata, North 24 Parganas, Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts owing to the effect of Yaas.
A red warning of heavy to very heavy rainfall was issued for nine districts in Odisha. "Heavy to very heavy rainfall at a few places with isolated extremely heavy fall very likely to occur over the districts of Balasore, Bhadrak, Jajpur, Kendrapada, Jagatsinghpur, Cuttack, Mayurbhanj, Keonjhar and Dhenkanal," the weather office said.
The weather office said that the system lay centred at about 15km west of Balasore at 1.30pm with intensity of 100-110kmph, gusting to 120kmph. It would move north-northwestwards and weaken gradually into a cyclonic storm during the next six hours, it added.
Bangladesh’s weather officials said the storm was likely to swamp low-lying areas of 14 coastal districts, bringing tides 0.91 meters to 1.22 metres higher than normal, and advised fishing boats and trawlers to stay in shelter.
(With agency inputs)