Bhubaneswar | Jagran News Desk: The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) on Sunday warned that cyclone Amphan (pronounced as UM-PUN) has intensified into a "severe cyclonic storm" and will intensify into "very severe cyclonic storm" in the next 12 hours and will make a landfall on West Bengal coast on May 20. 

In a statement, the weather department said that cyclone Amphan over southeast Bay of Bengal and neighbourhood has moved north-northwestwards with a speed of 6 kmph during past 6 hours and intensified slightly and lay centred over the same region at 5:30 am on Sunday, about 990 km south of Paradip and 1,140 km south-southwest of Digha.

The IMD said that the storm is currently spotted near latitude 11.4°N and longitude 86.0°E, about 990 km south of Paradip (Odisha), 1,140 km South-Southwest of Digha (West Bengal) and 1,260 km South-Southwest of Khepupara (Bangladesh). 

"It is very likely to move nearly northwards by Monday and then re-curve north-northeastwards across Northwest Bay of Bengal and cross West Bengal-Bangladesh coasts between Sagar Islands (West Bengal) and Hatiya Islands (Bangladesh) during the afternoon or evening of May 20 as a very severe cyclonic storm," news agency PTI quoted an official as saying.

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Following the IMD warning, the National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC) on Saturday reviewed the situation in West Bengal and Odisha and directed immediate assistance to the two states.

"The cabinet secretary reviewed the current situation and preparedness for rescue and relief operations and directed that immediate assistance, as required, be provided," the NCMC said in an official statement.

Meanwhile, National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has deployed ten of its team in Balasore, Bhadrak, Kendrapara, Puri, Jagatsinghpur, Jajpur and Mayurbhanj districts of Odisha. It has also deployed seven teams at 3rd NDRF BN Mundali in Cuttack.

The Odisha government has also placed 12 coastal districts on alert and asked the collectors to arrange for alternative shelter for the people there. Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik also reviewed the state's preparedness to face the cyclone.

"As always, saving lives is our priority. We should put our best efforts to save every precious human life," Patnaik told top officials and collectors of the 12 districts.

He had a video conference with the district collectors of Ganjam, Gajapti, Puri, Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara, Bhadrak, Balasore, Mayurbhanj, Jajpur, Cuttack, Khurda and Nayagarh.

Patnaik also directed the district collectors to prepare an evacuation plan keeping in view the IMD's forecast and shift people living in low-laying area and also from thatched and mud houses in order to save their lives during the possible calamity. 

The government has also suspended leave of all government employees in 12 coastal districts.

In West Bengal, Regional Met Director G K Das said, under cyclone impact, the coastal districts of Gangetic West Bengal, including North and South 24 Parganas, Kolkata, East and West Midnapore, Howrah and Hooghly will experience heavy to very heavy rain on May 19 and 20, said officials.

(With inputs from agencies)

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma