Cyclone batters eastern India, 1.2 million seek shelter

Cyclone batters eastern India, 1.2 million seek shelter

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DIGHA: Heavy rains and howling winds lashed eastern India on Wednesday as the Covid-stricken country’s second cyclone in as many weeks battered the coast, forcing more than 1.2 million people to seek shelter.

Many scientists say that as climate change warms the ocean, cyclones in the North Indian Ocean are becoming more frequent and severe.

Last week, Hurricane Tauktae claimed at least 155 lives in western India. The latest cyclone Yaas system has forced the evacuation of 1.2 million people in the eastern states of West Bengal and Orissa.

The Bureau of Meteorology of India said that the landing occurred around 0330 Greenwich Mean Time (9:00 GMT) and warned that it would generate waves above the roof in certain areas.

The coastal area has strong winds of up to 155 kilometers (95 miles) per hour and heavy rain.

“We have been experiencing heavy rainfall and strong winds since last night,” said Bibhu Prasad Panda, a resident of Balasore district in the storm’s path.

“Several trees have been uprooted. The cyclone has also led to snapping of overhead electricity cables.”

A tornado that preceded the storm left two dead electrocuted as it tore through West Bengal’s Hooghly district, authorities said.

Kolkata, West Bengal’s main city, ordered its international airport to shut down for most of Wednesday. The airport in Odisha’s capital, Bhubaneswar, followed suit.

“Every life is precious,” said Odisha’s chief minister Naveen Patnaik as he appealed for people not to “panic” and to move away from the coast.

The National Disaster Response Force said a record 4,800 disaster workers were placed in these two states, equipped with tree choppers and wire cutters, emergency communication devices, inflatable boats and medical assistance.

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