Super cyclone to hit India and Bangladesh

Reuters
Authorities in eastern India and Bangladesh were scrambling yesterday to move tens of thousands of villagers away from coasts.
Reuters

Authorities in eastern India and Bangladesh were scrambling yesterday to move tens of thousands of villagers away from coasts expected to suffer widespread damage from a super cyclone, a task complicated by the battle on the coronavirus.

India faces one of its biggest storms in about a decade, the weather office said, as super cyclone Amphan is expected to hit its coast late today.

“We have just about six hours left to evacuate people from their homes and we also have to maintain social distancing norms,” said S G Rai, a disaster management official.

“The super cyclone could wash away thousands of huts and standing crops,” he added.

Authorities in the states of Odisha and West Bengal were moving families to more than 1,000 shelters and hastily repurposing quarantine facilities soon after easing the world’s biggest lockdown against the virus, which has infected more than 100,000 and killed 3,163.

Bangladesh, where the cyclone threatens the worst storm in about 15 years along a low-lying coast, was moving people to higher ground and urging use of masks against the virus, which has caused 20,995 infections and 314 deaths.

“We have taken necessary steps so that people can maintain distance and wear masks,” said Enamur Rahman, the junior minister for disaster management, adding 12,000 cyclone shelters had been set for more than 5 million people.

The cyclone, packing windspeeds of up to 160 kph, could cause tidal waves and heavy rainfall to unleash floods along the coast.

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