New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: Super cyclone Amphan, which has now weakened into an extremely severe cyclonic storm, is making landfall close to Sundarbans between Digha (West Bengal) and Hatiya Islands (Bangladesh) and is expected to reach Kolkata by 6 pm today. 

"The landfall process commenced since 2:30 PM, will continue for about 4 hours. The forward sector of the wall cloud region is entering into land in West Bengal," said Director, IMD Bhubaneswar. 

Meanwhile, Pradeep Kumar Jena, IAS Special Relief Commissioner of Odisha said that the cyclone has moved down from its predicted path and has already crossed Paradip, Kendrapara, Dhamra, and right now it is at sea-adjoining Balasore. 

The intensity of the cyclone near its centre as the landfall process started was recorded at 160-170 kmph, gusting to 190 kmph, it said.

Heavy rain and gale wind have affected several districts in the Gangetic West Bengal since morning and the intensity of the downpour and wind increased gradually with every passing hour.

It is likely to hit the Indian coast as a strong storm equivalent to a Category 3 hurricane. According to the IMD, a storm surge of a height of about four-five metres above the astronomical tide will inundate the low-lying coastal areas in Bengal. 

Issuing 'red alert' in various districts, the West Bengal government today advised people to remain indoors and asked all traders in Kolkata and adjacent South Bengal districts to keep shops closed.

Here are key updates on super cyclone Amphan:

  • Officials are anticipating massive destruction when the cyclone makes landfall. Its intensity is expected to be similar to Fani - the tropical cyclone that hit the eastern coast in May last year, claiming over 70 lives.
  • More than 5 Lakh people have been evacuated in West Bengal and 1,58,640 people in Odisha, said NDRF chief S N Pradhan, adding that 20 NDRF teams have been deployed in Odisha, 19 in West Bengal and two are on standby
  • The MeT Department has advised all establishments and markets to remain closed in the city and adjoining areas and restriction on movement of people on May 20. Fishermen have been asked to stay off the coasts. 
  • The meteorological department had on Tuesday issued an "orange message" for West Bengal and warned of extensive damage in Kolkata, Hooghly, Howrah, South and North 24 Parganas and East Midnapore districts.
  • As many as 1,704 shelter camps have been set up in Odisha and around 100 across the coastal districts of North 24 Parganas, East Midnapore and South 24 Parganas in West Bengal.
  • Given the COVID-19 pandemic, the government has distributed more than two lakh masks among the evacuees and personal protective equipment (PPE) kits have been handed out to the State Disaster Relief Force personnel, who have been deployed in the vulnerable areas. North 24 Parganas and East Midnapore districts are two COVID hotspot districts due to high prevalence of positive cases.   
  • National Disaster Response Force chief S N Pradhan said on Tuesday that cyclone Amphan along with the coronavirus pandemic pose a double challenge for the country. “We have told Bengal and Odisha, social distancing has to be maintained strictly in cyclone shelters. If a shelter has space for 1,000 people, then only 500 should be allowed,” Pradhan was quoted by NDTV as saying.
  • There are high chances of disruption of rail and road link at several places, uprooting of communication and power poles, extensive damage to all types of kutcha houses and some damage to old poorly managed pucca structures and potential threat from flying objects, the weatherman said.
  • There is also likelihood of extensive damage to standing crops, plantations and orchards and blowing down of palm and coconut trees, the MeT office said.   
  • West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee feared that cyclone 'Amphan' might cause most of its devastation in the coastal South 24 Parganas district and announced several helpline numbers.
  • Forty teams of the NDRF have been deployed in West Bengal and Odisha to deal with any emergency situation. "A second disaster coming amid COVID-19 pandemic," Mr Pradhan said on Tuesday and it needs continuous monitoring.
  • On Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had chaired a high-level meeting to review the response measures and preparedness to tackle the storm. "Reviewed the preparedness regarding the situation due to cyclone 'Amphan.' The response measures as well as evacuation plans were discussed. I pray for everyone's safety and assure all possible support from the Central Government," PM Modi tweeted after the meeting.
  • Amphan is only the second "super cyclone" to form in the northeastern Indian Ocean since records began.

Posted By: Abhinav Gupta