Over 11,00,000 people have been evacuated from vulnerable areas in Orissa and West Bengal as cyclonic storm Yaas approaches the coast and is expected to make landfall near Dhamra Port in Bhadrak district early on Wednesday morning. While West Bengal has evacuated over 900,000 people to safe shelters, the Odisha government, on the other hand, said it has moved over 200,000 people from vulnerable areas in coastal districts to safety. Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy has also asked Collectors of three north coastal districts –Visakhapatnam, Vizianagaram and Srikakulamto– to be on a high alert.
In its latest release, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) has said that the storm has intensified into a ‘very severe cyclonic storm’ category. The IMD has also issued a red-coded warning alert to the Odisha and West Bengal coasts. As per the latest update by the MeT department, the storm is about 160 km southeast of Paradip (Odisha), 250 km south-southeast of Balasore (Odisha), 240 km south-southeast of Digha (West Bengal) and 230 km south of Sagar Islands (West Bengal). Heavy rain is likely in Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Bihar, Assam and Meghalaya.
NDRF deputes highest-ever number of teams
The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has earmarked its highest-ever number of teams for deployment in Odisha and West Bengal to undertake relief and rescue operations during cyclone Yaas, its chief S N Pradhan said. The federal contingency force has committed a total of 113 teams for deployment in five states and the Union Territory of Andaman and Nicobar Islands which are expected to be affected by the cyclone brewing in the Bay of Bengal.
Odisha CM stresses on saving lives
As 'severe cyclonic' storm Yaas approaches coast, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik asked officials to take all possible steps to protect human lives. "Every life is precious, thus all possible steps should be taken to protect life," the Odisha chief minister was quoted as saying. Patnaik made the remarks during a meeting to take stock of the cyclone situation in the state which has already started impacting lives across the coastal districts as heavy rain pounced with blowing of wind at a speed of about 60 kmph.
2 electrocuted to death, 80 houses damaged in Bengal districts
At least two people were electrocuted to death and around 80 houses were partly damage after a storm, which the West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee described as a "tornado", hit Hooghly and North 2 Parganas districts on Tuesday. The event struck hours before cyclone Yaas has to make landfall.
Manwhile, Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba chaired a meeting of the National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC) to review the preparedness of Central and state/UT governments and agencies for the cyclone. Gauba stressed that all the measures should be taken in a timely manner so that the loss of lives and destruction of properties is minimised. He was informed that necessary arrangements are being made to ensure uninterrupted functioning of hospitals and Covid Care Centres, along with ensuring generation and supply of oxygen to Covid facilities across the country.
The Director General of IMD and chief secretaries of the concerned states apprised the committee of the measures being taken. Evacuation of people from the low lying areas is being carried out, the committee was told. Adequate stocks of foodgrains, drinking water and other essential supplies have been arranged and preparations have been made to maintain essential services, including power and telecommunications, during the cyclone. The committee was further told that the NDRF has deployed 65 teams while 20 more teams are on standby. Rescue and relief teams of the Army, Navy and Coast Guard along with ships and aircraft have also been deployed.
The Indian Navy is also closely monitoring the movement of the storm and have carried out preparatory activities to combat its effects. As part of the preparedness, eight flood relief teams and four diving teams are prepositioned at Odisha and West Bengal to augment the existing resources. Four naval ships are on standby with Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) bricks, diving, and medical teams to render assistance in the most affected areas along the Odisha and West Bengal coast. Naval aircraft are kept ready at Naval Air stations, INS Dega at Visakhapatnam and INS Rajali near Chennai to undertake aerial survey of the most affected areas, casualty evacuation, and airdrop of relief material as required.