Cyclone Yaas: More than a million people evacuated as India braces for second ‘severe’ storm in a week

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<p>Residents shift makeshift stalls as water reaches a road at a beachfront area in the state of Odisha’s Balasore district</p> (Dibyangshu Sarkar/AFP via Getty Images)

Residents shift makeshift stalls as water reaches a road at a beachfront area in the state of Odisha’s Balasore district

(Dibyangshu Sarkar/AFP via Getty Images)

More than one million people in India were evacuated as Cyclone Yaas made landfall on the country’s eastern coast on Wednesday morning.

The “severe” cyclone made landfall at about 8:30am local time north of Dhamra and south of Balasore in Odisha in eastern India, close to the Bahanaga block coast, the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) said in a statement. The landfall was supposed to take three to four hours to complete.

The IMD sent a red-coded warning alert to Odisha and the West Bengal coast before the cyclone hit. Yaas is the second cyclone in less than 10 days to strike India. Before this, Cyclone Tauktae killed more than 90 people.

The wind speed of Cyclone Yaas is currently estimated at 130-140km/h, gusting to 155km/h, according to the Doppler Radar data. The IMD had earlier predicted the wind speed during the landfall would be around 155 to 165km/h, gusting to 185km/h.

As many as 1200 rescue shelters have been set up as more than a million people living near the eastern coastline have been evacuated by local authorities. However, there are fears that Covid-19 social distancing norms might be difficult to maintain. Several health teams have been deployed at the rescue shelters.

Flight operations at Kolkata airport have been suspended from 8:30am to 7:45pm. At the airport of Bhubaneshwar, capital of Odisha, operations were suspended from 11pm on Monday. Flights will resume from 5am on Thursday.

Villagers resting at a rescue shelter ahead of Cyclone Yaas making landfall (AFP via Getty Images)
Villagers resting at a rescue shelter ahead of Cyclone Yaas making landfall (AFP via Getty Images)

The neighbouring states of Assam and Meghalaya have been warned of heavy rainfall on account of Cyclone Yaas.

With sea levels expected to rise, several low-lying areas on the eastern coast will be inundated, rendering millions of people living in coastal areas vulnerable, local authorities have said.

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Rescue services, including the Eastern Command of the Indian Army, have deployed 17 cyclone relief teams in West Bengal.

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Eastern Railway’s general manager, Manoj Joshi, told the media that all trains have been cancelled in view of the cyclone and that “a dedicated control room has been established.”

National Disaster Response Force personnel walk through a village and urge the villagers to evacuate (AFP via Getty Images)
National Disaster Response Force personnel walk through a village and urge the villagers to evacuate (AFP via Getty Images)

On account of Cyclone Yaas, a yellow alert has been issued in at least nine districts of Kerala that have been witnessing heavy rainfall. A yellow alert cautions preparedness against severe weather conditions.

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Mamata Banerjee, the chief minister of West Bengal, told the media on Wednesday that damage has been reported in the embankment areas at several places in the state’s Purba Medinipur and South 24 Parganas districts.

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The states of Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand and Tamil Nadu are also likely to be affected. At least 50 rescue teams have been deployed there as well.

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