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Amphan Nears Bengal-Odisha Coast, High Alert

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Richa Sayantika, Calcutta & Saraswati Jena, Puri

Super cyclone ”Amphan” has lost some vigour but is still shaping to be an extremely severe cyclonic storm  as it moved closer to the coast on Tuesday.

It has already led to heavy rainfall in several parts of Odisha and West Bengal, where the state governments stepped up efforts to evacuate people in vulnerable areas, said a top weather official. 
He said 165-185kms per hour winds are likely to batter the Odisha-West Bengal-Bangladesh coast when the cyclone makes a landfall.

National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) chief SN Pradhan told mediapersons late on Tuesday  the “double challenge” of the coronavirus pandemic and a natural disaster was looming large before authorities . 

Most school or other government buildings in the coastal areas are already in use as quarantine centers but now the administration is supposed to move entire populations in vulnerable areas into these buildings because they are the safest shelters around.

“It will be so difficult to maintaining social distancing with so many people forced into narrow space . The buildings maybe have to put up with much more people that they can house,” Pradhan told Easternlink.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said she will ask the railways to stop running special “Shramik” trains for migrants to the state till Thursday. The cyclonic storm is likely to cross West Bengal’s Digha and Bangladesh’s Hatiya Thursday afternoon.

Three lakh people have been evacuated from coastal areas in West Bengal, Mamata  Banerjee said Tuesday.

“All precautionary measures are taken to deal with any eventuality arising out of the super cyclone. I had a word with Home Minister Amit Shah regarding it. At least three lakh people have been evacuated from three coastal districts of the state and moved to relief shelters,” she told reporters.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday chaired a high-level meeting after two states – Odisha and West Bengal – were alerted about Cyclone Amphan, which may hit Bengal tomorrow, according to the weather office.

A “very heavy rain” warning has also been issued in some states in the northeast.

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