Cyclone AMPHAN turns ‘extremely severe’, predicted to hit Bengal soon.

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A cyclone alert has been sounded in West Bengal and Odisha as AMPHAN intensified into an “extremely severe” storm overnight, the weather office said. It is expected to make a landfall in Bengal on Wednesday. 

“The very severe cyclonic storm ‘AMPHAN’ (pronounced as UM-PUN) over central parts of South Bay of Bengal moved north-northeastwards with a speed of 13 kmph during past six hours, intensified into an Extremely Severe Cyclonic Storm,” a statement by the India Meteorological Department or IMD read.

The storm is likely to “further intensify” over the next six hours, it said, adding that the cyclone is “very likely to move north-northeastwards and move fast across northwest Bay of Bengal and cross West Bengal – Bangladesh coasts between Digha (West Bengal) and Hatiya Islands (Bangladesh) during the afternoon or evening of May 20 (Wednesday)” as a “very severe cyclonic storm”.

The warnings by the weather department are divided into three categories. A “Yellow warning” or “Cyclone Alert” is issued at least 48 hours in advance of the expected commencement of adverse weather over the coastal areas. An “Orange Alert” or “Cyclone Warning” is issued at least 24 hours in advance of the expected commencement of adverse weather over the coastal areas.

A “Red Alert” or “post landfall outlook” signifies likely direction of movement of the cyclone after its landfall and adverse weather likely to be experienced in the interior areas.

Odisha and Bengal have been put on a “Yellow” alert by the weather office. 

In Odisha, 17 teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) are on duty. The state, which was hit by Cyclone Fani last year, has made arrangements to shift 11 lakh people from vulnerable areas, Special Relief Commissioner (SRC) P K Jena was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.

The situation is being closely monitored in 12 coastal districts: Ganjam, Gajapti, Puri, Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara, Bhadrak, Balasore, Mayurbhanj, Jajpur, Cuttack, Khurda and Nayagarh. 

Fishermen have been advised not to venture into north Bay of Bengal along and off West Bengal-Odisha coasts till Wednesday.

West Bengal Home secretary Alapan Bandopdhyay said that the entire state machinery is prepared to deal with the situation. Disaster management teams were dispatched to cyclone shelters in the coastal areas and other places for rescue and relief operations where social distancing norms will be strictly followed, he said, due to COVID-19 pandemic.

On Saturday, the National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC) met under Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba to review the preparedness for minimising the loss of lives and property at a time when the country is fighting coronavirus, PTI reported.

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