As Cyclone Yaas approaches towards country's eastern coast, the Indian Army has deployed 17 integrated relief columns, comprising specialised personnel with necessary equipment and inflatable boats, in West Bengal. The deployment of the Army columns is based on a requisition and is in close coordination with the government of West Bengal, the Army said in a statement. Lakhs of people in both states Odisha and West Bengal have also been evacuated in view of the cyclonic storm.
Cyclone landfall in Odisha likely on Wednesday
Cyclone Yaas is likely to make landfall near Dhamra Port in Odisha's Bhadrak district early on Wednesday morning and it can have a speed of 155 kmph to 165 kmph, gusting to 185 kmph, the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) had said on Monday.
Lakhs of people evacuated in view of Cyclone Yaas
West Bengal and Odisha have evacuated lakhs of people from vulnerable areas to safety as severe cyclonic storm 'Yaas' is nearing the coast and is expected to make landfall near Dhamra Port in Bhadrak district early on Wednesday morning. Neighbouring Jharkhand has also sounded an alert and is preparing for the cyclone's impact.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday said that her administration has evacuated over nine lakh people to safe shelters.
The Odisha government, on the other hand, said it has moved over 2 lakh people from vulnerable areas in coastal districts to safety.
IMD Director General Dr Mrutyunjay Mohapatra said that 'Yaas' is likely to intensify into a Very Severe Cyclonic Storm (VSCS) by Tuesday evening. He said the cyclone's impact will be severe for six hours before and after the landfall and Chandbali will witness the maximum damage.
Dr Umashankar Das, a scientist at the Regional Meteorological Centre, Bhubaneswar said that the landfall will most likely be between Dhamra and Chandbali in Odisha's Bhadrak district.
Banerjee said over 74,000 officers and workers and over 2 lakh policemen and civic volunteers have been deployed to mitigate the natural calamity in West Bengal.
Kolkata airport to remain shut on Wednesday
The airport authority has decided to shutdown Kolkata Airport tomorrow (Wednesday) from 8.30 am to 7.45 pm amid in view of the cyclonic storm.
Yaas has been moving north-northwestwards at a speed of 10 kmph during the past six hours. It lays centred around 320 km south-southeast of Paradip (Odisha), 430 km south-southeast of Balasore (Odisha) and 420 km south-southeast of Digha (West Bengal) at 5.30 am, the IMD said.
9 relief columns on stand-by in Bengal
Nine cyclone relief columns have also been kept on standby at Kolkata for redeployment, as necessary in West Bengal, at a short notice, it said.
The cyclone is likely to move north-northwestwards and intensify further into a very severe cyclonic storm during the next 12 hours, the IMD said in its latest bulletin issued at 9.10 am on Tuesday.
Army all set to take relief tasks
The Army columns are equipped to undertake casualty evacuation of stranded or marooned persons, medical treatment, road clearing or tree cutting, and distribution of relief material, as would be required by the local district administration, the statement said.
"Columns have been pre-positioned at Purulia, Jhargram, Birbhum, Bardhaman, West Midnapur, Howrah, Hoogly, Nadia, 24 Parganas North & South," the Army said.
Vessels moved, oil and gas installations in survival mode
Ships at anchorage have been asked to move to a safer area in the sea while oil and gas installations will go into 'survival' mode as they brace for cyclone Yaas to make landfall at north Odisha-West Bengal coast.
Cyclone Yaas, equivalent to a category 3 hurricane, is the second severe storm in the span of about 10 days to hit Indian coasts.
The cyclone is set to make landfall sometime Wednesday evening.
A major contingency plan has been put in place to mitigate the impact of the cyclone on oil and gas installations, an official statement said.
(With PTI inputs)