Cyclone Yaas: Powerful storm inundates large parts of Bengal's coastal districts, destroys homes
The West Bengal government has evacuated over 15 lakh people from vulnerable areas to safety so far.
A powerful cyclone destroyed tens of thousands of mud houses in eastern India on Wednesday, forcing the closure of the busiest regional airport in Kolkata, as it brought storm surges to coastal areas, the second such event within a week.
Cyclone Yaas was packing gusts of up to 140 kph (87 mph) as it hit land, authorities said, days after Tauktae tore up the western coast, triggering mass evacuations and piling pressure on authorities battling a deadly second wave of the coronavirus.
Rising river water levels due to the landfall of cyclone Yaas have inundated large parts of West Bengal's coastal districts of Purba Medinipur and South 24 Parganas on Wednesday, as sea waves were seen touching coconut tree-tops and cars floating in floodwaters.
The seaside towns of Digha and Mandarmoni in Purba Medinipur and Fraserganj and Gosaba in South 24 Parganas were among the areas affected by a storm surge of more than 2 metres above the astronomical tide level.
The surging waters have breached embankments at several places in the two coastal districts, inundating many villages and small towns, officials said.
Water levels of several rivers including Bidyadhari, Hooghly and Rupnarayan have risen owing to Yaas and accompanying storm surge.
By noon, the "very severe cyclone" would cross Odisha and its neighbour, West Bengal, weather officials said.
West Bengal's chief minister, Mamata Banerjee, told reporters that about 20,000 mud houses and temporary shelters had been damaged in the state.
Army, National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), State Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and state police and civil defence volunteers were working round-the-clock to move people to safety.
The Army has deployed 17 columns to assist the state administration, of which one rescued 32 stranded civilians at Digha, a Defence official said.
The state's Kolkata airport was closed to flights until Wednesday evening.
Cyclones in the Bay of Bengal are common at this time of year, and often roar ashore, bringing death and destruction to the coastal areas of both India and neighbouring Bangladesh.
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