West Bengal, Odisha prepare for possible cyclone storm hitting east coast

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(Eds combining stories in this series) Kolkata/Bhubaneswar, May 19 (PTI) The coastal states of West Bengal and Odisha Wednesday started preparing for a possible cyclone hitting the eastern coast on May 26, in the backdrop of the devastating cyclone Taukte which hit the west coast of India on Monday.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday directed senior government officials to make all necessary arrangements after the weather office warned about a cyclonic storm that may hit the eastern coastline of Bengal and Odisha.

Chairing a virtual meeting, Banerjee directed officers to arrange for adequate stock of medicines, drinking water, dry food and tarpaulins, officials said.

She also told the officers to ensure that enough force, from state disaster management team and police, are deployed, they said.

'All cyclone centres and shelters have been asked to be readied. The district magistrates have been directed to take all precautionary measures in the wake of the warnings,' an official said.

The Odisha state government too has asked the collectors of coastal districts to remain alert and make necessary arrangements in the wake of the weather department's forecast.

Special Relief Commissioner PK Jena held a meeting with the district collectors and police chiefs, besides speaking to the senior officials of the local meteorological office, NDRF, ODRAF, the Odisha Police and the fire brigade, among others.

'There is no confirmed information that the cyclone will make landfall on the Odisha coast. We have received some preliminary reports from IMD which predicted a possible cyclonic storm in Odisha-West Bengal coast on May 26,' Jena told reporters after the meeting.

A low-pressure area is very likely to form over North Andaman Sea and adjoining east central Bay of Bengal on May 22 and intensify into a cyclonic storm, the Met Department said.

This is very likely to move north-westwards and reach West Bengal-Odisha coasts around May 26 evening, Regional Met Director GK Das said.

The low-pressure area, after formation on May 22, is very likely to intensify into a cyclonic storm during the subsequent 72 hours.

Light to moderate rainfall is likely to commence from May 25 in the coastal districts of West Bengal, he said. This is likely to increase significantly over all the south Bengal districts and intensify thereafter, Das said.

Warning that sea conditions are likely to be rough to very rough, the Met Department advised fishermen not to venture into the Bay of Bengal from May 24.