New Delhi, May 19, 2020 (IANS)
The National Disaster Response Force on Tuesday said as many as 41 teams are pre-positioned to carry out evacuation and awareness in both Odisha and West Bengal which are likely to be affected by the impending Cyclone Amphan. The cyclone, with a width of 700 km and 15 km height, is currently whirling 570 km from south-southwest of West Bengal’s Digha and 700 km south-southwest from Bangladesh’s Khepupara and is going to make landfall in-between the two islands in over 24 hours.
Addressing a press briefing, Director General S.N. Pradhan said, “Nineteen teams are on ground, while two are on standby in six districts of West Bengal. In Odisha, out of the 20 teams, 15 are actively deployed in seven districts.”
He said evacuation is being carried out in areas which are likely to be affected. “In Cyclone shelter homes, where 1,000 people can be accommodated, keeping social distancing in mind, only 400-500 people will be kept.
“This is the second disaster coming as we are already fighting COVID-19. This requires continuous monitoring. We are calling it a cyclone in the times of COVID-19,” he added.
Besides this, 24 additional teams from six NDRF battalions are on standby, he said, adding that they will be flown to the respective states as and when the need arises.
Pradhan said teams deployed on the ground have reliable wireless and satellite communications in case of communication blackout.
“Based on experiences during Cyclone FANI, all the teams are equipped with tree and pole cutters for post-landfall restoration,” he added.
The Director General said that as two states are facing the double whammy due to COVID-19 pandemic and cyclone, all the teams have been equipped with Personal Protection Equipment.
The Director General said that NDRF teams have established coordination with respective district and local administrations and conducted awareness drives about COVID-19, precautions and preventive measures and also about cyclones and its ‘dos and don’ts” in areas likely to be most affected.
According to Sunita Devi, in-charge of cyclones at India Meteorological Department, the cyclone is currently whirling at the wind speed of 210 to 220 km, gusting to over 240 km per hour. The speed will, however, come down to 185 km per hour by the time it makes landfall on Wednesday afternoon.
The weather condition is being continuously tracked by Doppler Weather Radar at Visakhapatnam district in Andhra Pradesh.
IMD Director General Mrutyunjay Mohapatra had earlier said that the cyclone will have multi-hazard consequences — tidal wave, strong wind and heavy rain.