PortandTerminal.com, May 20, 2020
With COVID-19 at its peak, millions of people fled or hunkered down in shelters as Super Cyclone Amphan slammed into the Indian and Bangladeshi coasts. Cities were flooded and winds exceeded 100 miles per hour.
KOLKATA, INDIA – At least 2.6 million people fled to shelters in Bangladesh and western India Wednesday as Cyclone Ampham made landfall. The “super cyclone” has been described as the fiercest cyclone ever in the Bay of Bengal.
Heavy rain began to lash the area hours and several cities, including Kolkata, were flooded. Bangladesh’s disaster management officials had worked on a war footing to evacuate about two million people from low-lying coastal areas along the bay.
As the storm approached, evacuation efforts gave way to attempts to keep people safe in shelters. Waves of over 16 feet were spotted near the coast of India. The storm pushed seawater some 15 miles inland.
COVID-19 at peak in region
The challenge of moving millions of people to safety has been made all the more difficult by the need to maintain even basic COVID-19 safety protocols of social distancing and hygiene.
Many people living along India and Bangladesh’s swampy coast were fearful of packing into crowded shelters where the chances of infection could be much higher.
As the storm moves inland it is expected to weaken. The immediate physical damage from the winds and flooding will be visible in the coming hours. The impact on COVID-19 infection rates of millions of people being forced to evacuate en masse during the cyclone will be visible in the coming days and weeks.
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