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Alert sounded, preparations underway to safeguard districts in West Bengal from cyclone Amphan

Cyclone Amphan is intensifying and moving further in the direction of coastal areas in West Bengal and Odisha. The present speed of the cyclone as it is gaining moisture and power is 160 km/hr.Located about 850 kms away from Digha, the cyclone’s landfall is expected between Digha and Bangladesh on the morning of May 20.…

Cyclone Amphan is intensifying and moving further in the direction of coastal areas in West Bengal and Odisha. The present speed of the cyclone as it is gaining moisture and power is 160 km/hr.

Located about 850 kms away from Digha, the cyclone’s landfall is expected between Digha and Bangladesh on the morning of May 20. Moving over the Bay of Bengal, this cyclone is expected to grow stronger in speed and force.

Alerts have been sounded in 12 districts of Odisha and 5 districts in West Bengal, including Kolkata. South 24 Parganas, North 24 Parganas, East and West Midnapore are also on high alert.

All fishing expeditions had been stalled from Sunday till further orders. Operations at the Haldia Docks, including floating cargo handling in the sea, have also been suspended for the time being.

The Indian Coast Guard has initiated a series of pre-emptive measures to tackle the approaching cyclone. A senior official in the district of East Midnapore confirmed, “The District Administration is prepared to face the cyclone storm Amphan which is going to hit the shores of Digha and other areas of East Midnapore on coming Tuesday. The loading and unloading of goods at Haldia port have been closed for that day. All types of safety measures have been taken.”

Cyclone Amphan in Bay of Bengal (Photo Credits: PTI)

Another official with the Indian Coast Guard told India Today, “Our aim is to achieve zero loss of life at sea.” All Coast Guard ships and aircraft have been deployed to issue advisories in the local language to fishermen asking them to return to the port.

Efforts have been initiated in equal measure by the West Bengal government and the state Fisheries Department.

The International Safety Net (INS) has been activated in the Bay of Bengal by Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Chennai. Coast Guard Authorities have also instructed all coastal police stations and fisheries associations to advise all fishing boats and dinghies to return to the harbour immediately.

Along with Disaster Relief personnel, teams of Coast Guard equipped with life-saving equipment have been activated and are being kept on standby for mobilization.

There are about three oil jetties in the port area at the moment.

Captain Udyan Roy, the General Manager of the Haldia Dock Complex said all precautions have been taken to ensure that no untoward accidents happen while these jetties are kept in river water. He added, “We have three oil jetties which we have emptied. Since the oil jetties are anchored on the river water, their chance of exposure to the cyclone increases. If these LPG tankers by any chance face leakage due to the cyclone, there will be a huge problem.”

Precautions are also being taken even inside the dock to secure vessels from crashing into the oil jetties. “Other than precautions on water, we have also taken precautions on the ground. The fire department and the engineering department are ready in case of an unprecedented accident. Our medical teams, as well as electrical teams, are also ready” the Captain said.

An uprooted tree in Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu on May 18 following gusty winds ahead of cyclone Amphan’s landfall (Photo Credits: PTI)

All vessels from Singapore and other countries have been asked to stay away for safety purposes. Besides these precautions, measures have also been adopted to ensure the safety of all workers and other people.

Over 40,000 people have already been evacuated from Sagar Island. More people are being evacuated. Massive drives are being conducted to spread awareness and ensure sanitzation of all cyclone shelters, along with the provision of masks, sanitizers, PPEs, and handwashing arrangements. Satellite phones, ham radios, and RT mobiles have already been installed at strategic locations.

National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) officials at Sagar Islands, Kakdwip, Namkhana, Patharpratima and Gosaba have been deployed to concerned areas. The State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) personnel at Ghoramara, Mousuni Island and G-Plot have also been activated. Civil Defence teams are on standby at all concerned locations.

Howrah

  • Preparations are being made by the Howrah Municipal Corporation for the cyclone. A 24/7 central helpline number has been issued and control rooms at all borough offices and bally sub-offices are monitoring the situation. NDRF teams have been deployed at all borough offices and bally sub-offices.
  • All dangerous trees, buildings and hoardings are being attended by the central disaster management team and information regarding the same is being communicated through Facebook and Twitter.
  • The civic body has also arranged sufficient gas cutters, special pumps to pump out water, and shelters to house people if required. Relief and food materials are in place.

Cyclone Amphan in Bay of Bengal (Photo Credits: PTI)

North 24 Parganas

  • People are panic-stricken in the Sundarban area of Basirhat as the cyclone nears. A team of 30 NDRF personnel has been deployed in Hasnabad and tasked with spreading awareness about cyclone Amphan.
  • The block development officers (BDOs) have arranged the food, water and medical supplies in case of an emergency. Stocks of safety equipment and PPE kits are also being maintained. Block Administration along with Gram Panchayat officials is ready to evacuate around 4,000 people from danger zone i.e. riversides.
  • Control rooms have been set up in every block to help people stay safe and alert.
  • Fishermen have been asked to return from seashores and rivers.

West Midnapore

  • BDOs and sub-divisional officers of the district held a meeting on Monday. Special attention will be given to Dantan, Mohanpur and Kharagpur which are likely to be the most affected areas.
  • The SDRF and Civil Defense teams are already prepared for the cyclone. Adequate food and medical supplies are being stockpiled.
  • As many as 30,000 Masks, Sanitizers and PPE kits have also been arranged for protection from the novel coronavirus.

(With inputs from Tapas Ghosh in East Midnapore, Baidyanath Jha in Howrah and Prosenjit in South 24 Parganas )

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