India World

Cyclone Yaas: Powerful tropical storm hits eastern India, southern Bangladesh

A powerful cyclone with wind speeds upto 80kmph tore into eastern India, with reports suggesting it has killed several people.

Cyclone Yaas, which intensified into a “very severe cyclonic storm”, hit the states of West Bengal and Orissa on Wednesday, as well as lashing southern Bangladesh.

This is the second cyclone to hit the country in a week, after Cyclone Tauktae killed more than 150 people.

It comes as India is already struggling to deal with its Covid-19 outbreak.

Yaas lashed coastal areas with ferocious wind and rain as it made landfall in India, damaging homes and bringing waves that swamped towns. More than one million people were evacuated in the country as the storm approached.

In its latest update, the India Meteorological Department tweeted that the cyclone weaken as it moves northwards.

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee said some 20,000 homes were damaged in the state, with the town of Digha “swamped” by four-metre-high waves.

One person was killed there after being dragged out to sea while another died after their home collapsed, she reportedly said.

In Orissa, there are reports that two people were killed by uprooted trees.

Nearly 1,200 rescue shelters have been sanitised in line with Covid-19 safety norms, and health teams have been deployed there, as more than a million people were evacuated to shelters.

Tidal surges also flooded coastal areas of Bangladesh, stranding thousands of people.

According to an official there quoted by the Associated Press news agency, more than 20 villages in the southern Patuakhali district were submerged after waters washed away two river embankments, and at least 15,000 people had gone to cyclone shelters.

Officials told AFP news agency that one man was killed in Bangladesh by a falling tree as waters swept over defences.

India’s states of Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand and Tamil Nadu on the east coast are also likely to be affected, with more than 50 rescue teams sent to them.

In March last year, Cyclone Amphan, said to be the first super cyclone to form in the Bay of Bengal since 1999, devastated West Bengal state, killing hundreds.

In 2019, Cyclone Fani, which formed in the Bay of Bengal, hit Orissa, causing immense damage to life and property.

Meteorologists say that high sea temperatures in the “warm” Bay of Bengal are also a major reason for strong cyclones.