Cyclone Amphan hits Bengal; high-speed winds in Kolkata

Kolkata, May 20 (IANS) Severe cyclonic storm Amphan made a landfall in West Bengal on Wednesday afternoon, with Kolkata and its nearby areas witnessing high-speed winds exceeding 100 kmph accompanied by heavy rains. The cyclone is said to be one of the worst to form over the Bay of Bengal in many years.
According to the India Meteorological Department (IMD), Director General Mrityunjay Mohapatra said the eye of the cyclone, which is 30 km in diameter, has touched the land.
Sanjib Bandyopadhyay, Alipore Met Dept, (Eastern region), said the circular structure of the cyclone started making landfall in Bengal this afternoon.
He said : “The process started around 2.30 p.m. with the forward sector boundary of the cyclonic circle making the landfall in the coastal districts of Bengal. As per our records at 4 p.m. the windspeed was 105 km/hr in Kolkata which can go upto 130 km.”
He said three coastal districts — South and North 24 Parganas and East Midnapore — will be the worst affected, besides, vast swathes of South Bengal districts such as Kolkata, Howrah, Hooghly, West Midnapore will bear the brunt of the heavy storm.
Areas such as Sagar Island, Kakdwip and Diamond Harbour in South 24 Parganas and Digha and Haldia in East Midnapore were battered by the storm, uprooting trees and electric poles and destroying many shacks.
Firhad Hakim, Administrator of the state’s largest civic body, Kolkata Municipl Corporation, said, “We are keeping a close watch on the situation. The storm has caused some trees getting uproted and power failure in various parts of the city. We have shifted a number of people from old dilapidated buildings in Kolkata to temporary rescue centres. Some of them have, however, refused to get relocated. Our officials are monitoring the situation on an hourly basis”.
“I am at the TMC control room and supervising the overall situation in Kolkata. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is reviewing the situation from the Nabanna control room. She will be there at the state secretariat for the whole night. A task force spearheaded by the State Chief Secretary Rajib Sinha is looking after the relief and rescue operations. The police are on high alert.”
All flyovers and elevated corridors were closed to vehicular traffic in Kolkata in view of the approaching cyclonic storm, expected to make a landfall somewhere between East Midnapore’s Digha and Hatiya Island in Bangladesh on Wednesday. The landfall is expected between afternoon and evening.
Police sources said all flyovers have been barricaded and movement of vehicles suspended at various flyovers in the state capital.
Meanwhile, as many as five lakh people in West Bengal and 1.5 lakh in Odisha have been evacuated as per the data submitted by the state governments, the National Disaster Response Force said on Wednesday.

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