Despite losing their power in the last few hours, Cyclone Amphan remains the most powerful to form in two decades in the Bay of Bengal. India and Bangladesh have evacuated more than three million people, but the operation is made more complex with Covid-19.
Strong winds up to 190 km / h and gusts up to five meters high. Cyclone Amphan (pronounced “um-pun”), the most powerful since the beginning of the century in the Bay of Bengal, received landfall on Wednesday, May 20 in the late afternoon in eastern India, the Indian Meteorological Services announced.
“The eye is on the island of Sagar”, which lies a hundred kilometers south of Calcutta, says Sanjib Banerjee, head of the regional meteorological center.
Heavy rain and strong winds sweep Calcutta, root out trees, cause floods and disrupt telecommunications.
Large parts of the capital of West Bengal are thrown out in the dark, and electricity has been interrupted by the suppliers in order to avoid accidents.
“People are screaming as the winds pass through the city shaking their doors and windows,” Sriparna Bose, a 60-year-old university professor, told AFP. “I’ve never seen such a situation in my life.”
Three million evacuated
India and Bangladesh have evacuated more than three million people. Meteorologists are afraid of a potential storm surge that can be up to five meters high.
Shown this weekend at sea, Amphan reached category 4 of 5 on the Saffir-Simpson scale on Monday, with winds ranging from 200 to 240 km / h, before being downgraded to category 3. It is the most powerful cyclone born in the Bay of Bengal since 1999. That year, a cyclone had killed 10,000 people in Odisha.
Despite the loss of power of the cyclone as it approaches the coast, the Indian and Bangladeshi authorities expect enormous material damage. “It is a devastating wind speed and can cause massive destruction,” said Mrutyunjay Mohapatra, Director General of India’s Meteorological Department.
The countries of the region have learned the lessons of the devastating cyclones of the devastating decades: They have built thousands of protection for the population in recent years and have developed a policy of rapid evacuation.
The risks of promoting the spread of Covid-19
Their task, however, is complicated this year by the coronavirus pandemic, the displacement of populations likely to promote the spread of Covid-19. National inclusions have existed in India and Bangladesh since the end of March.
Bangladesh has opened more than 13,000 high-pressure covers, almost triple the usual number, to keep them less stressed. In both India and Bangladesh, the authorities have asked evacuees to wear masks indoors.
“We have told people to keep a physical distance in shelters because of the corona virus,” said Shah Kamal, head of the Bangladesh Disaster Management Authority.
If cyclone frequency and intensity have increased in recent years in the Bay of Bengal, a phenomenon partly attributed to global warming, human balance sheets are generally much lower than before thanks to a more developed surveillance system and well-proven preventive measures.