PortandTerminal.com, May 19, 2020
India and Bangladesh are evacuating millions ahead of Super Cyclone Amphan, expected to be the worst storm ever in the Bay of Bengal. COVID-19 lockdown measures complicating emergency preparations
KOLKATA, INDIA – Super Cyclone Amphan has spurred the evacuation of millions in India and Bangladesh ahead of what is expected to be the worst storm ever to hit the Bay of Bengal.
It is only the second super cyclone on record that has formed over the Bay of Bengal. The first of that classification was the devastating 1999 cyclone “Fani” in Odisha state that left nearly 10,000 dead.
Super Cyclone Amphan about to strike
The cyclone is expected to make landfall Wednesday morning near the border of India and Bangladesh. Forecasters warn of extensive damage from high winds, heavy rainfall, tidal waves, and flooding in crowded cities like Kolkata. CNN reports that if it lands in the low-lying delta, there is also the potential for major storm surges, perhaps even as high as 30 feet (9 meters).
Amphan is forecast to make landfall near poor, densely populated areas with notoriously unreliable infrastructure. Coastal areas of low-lying Bangladesh are particularly vulnerable to flooding.
Shipping and a number of ports in the busy Bay of Bengal region will take a direct hit from the cyclone.
There are reports on Monday that the storm has registered sustained winds of 165 mph – a Category 5 equivalent on the Saffir-Simpson scale. The storm is however expected to lose some strength as it makes landfall.
COVID-19 lockdown complicating readiness measures
More than 2 million people are being evacuated from at-risk areas of India and Bangladesh on Tuesday as Super Cyclone Amphan heads towards them.
The storm is bringing with it the potential for major destruction and upheaval in two countries that are still battling the Covid-19 pandemic.
There is a reported shortage of shelters due to COVID-19, so schools are being used.
In India, more than 200,000 people were being evacuated in the state of West Bengal. There too, authorities promised to hand out masks and sanitizing products and maintain physical distancing.
The coasts of India and Bangladesh have been increasingly battered by monstrous storms in recent decades as climate change has led to more extreme weather.
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