New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: Bangladesh has reported its first death due to Cyclone Amphan just before the “extremely severe cyclonic storm” is expected to make landfall close to Sundarbans between Digha (West Bengal) and Hatiya Islands (Bangladesh), reported news agency AFP.

According to Indian Meteorological Department, the landfall process of the cyclonic storm began at 2:30 pm IST and will continue for the next four hours. "The forward sector of the wall cloud region is entering into land in West Bengal," said IMD Bhubaneswar.  

At least 1.4 million people in the coastal areas of Bangladesh have taken refuge in storm shelters. Authorities are continuing to shift the local people to the shelters, said Kazi Tasmin Ara Ajmiri, Deputy Secretary in the National Disaster Response Coordination Centre. 

Authorities have already raised the alert level to 'great danger' for some districts in the country as the cyclone, the most powerful storm since cyclone 'Sidr' killed nearly 3,500 people in 2007, was approaching the country's coastline.

The Bangladesh Army, Navy and Air Force have made preparations to tackle the super cyclone which has moved within 400km of Bangladesh's coast and is expected to make landfall on Wednesday evening, Bdnews24.com reported.

The cyclone is expected to make landfall at 6pm on Wednesday, State Minister for Disaster Management and Relief Enamur Rahman was quoted as saying by the report.

On Tuesday, the authorities began to move nearly 2.2 million people to storm shelters to avoid casualties.

The Navy has deployed 25 ships as part of three-tier efforts to conduct emergency rescue, relief and medical operations in the immediate aftermath of the super cyclone, the report said.

Two maritime patrol aircraft and two helicopters were also at the ready to conduct search operations over the Bay of Bengal and in the coastal districts, the Inter Services Public Relations Directorate (ISPR) said.

The Army has prepared 18,400 packets of relief materials and formed 71 medical teams. As many as 145 disaster management teams with special equipment are also ready to be deployed at short notice, the ISPR said.

The Army Aviation Group would join rescue and relief operations, it said.

The Air Force will assess the possible damage along with medical, relief and rescue efforts by using six transport aircraft and 22 helicopters, it said.

Meanwhile, the Bangladesh Meteorological Department on Wednesday advised ten coastal districts to hoist the 'Great Danger Signal Number 10' as Cyclone Amphan has moved closer to Bangladesh's coast, the Dhaka Tribune reported.

Coastal districts of Satkhira, Khulna, Bagherhat, Jhalokathi, Pirozpur, Barguna, Patuakhali, Bhola, Barishal, Laxmipur, Chandpur and their offshore islands and chars will come under great danger signal number 10, the report said.

The meteorologists said the world's largest mangrove forest, the Sundarbans, was likely to absorb the main brunt of the Amphan onslaughts as it has done many times over the centuries, leading to a less number of human casualties.

"The Sundarbans always absorbed the brunt of cyclones whichever hit the coastlines alongside the Bangladesh-India, we expect the forest to face the initial impact of Amphan like foot soldiers this time as well," Bangladesh's Meteorology Department Director Shamsuddin Ahmed told reporters on Tuesday.

Leading global storm tracker AccuWeather on Tuesday described Amphan as the first super cyclone in the Bay of Bengal since 1999, fearing the "ferocious" storm to unleash extreme impacts across Bangladeshi and northeastern Indian coastlines.

(With PTI inputs)

Posted By: Abhinav Gupta