Cyclone "Amphan" left a trail of destruction in Odisha as it triggered heavy downpour coupled with high-velocity winds while hurtling towards the West Bengal coast on Wednesday, uprooting trees and flattening fragile structures, officials said.
More than 1.41 lakh people living in low-lying areas and thatched and mud houses in the vulnerable coastal regions were evacuated and shifted to cyclone shelters, Special Relief Commissioner (SRC), P K Jena said.
The evacuees were accommodated in 2,921 shelters where cooked food and other facilities were provided, he said, adding that the cyclone developed and moved as per the IMD forecast.
"It took exactly the path forecast by them. I must thank the IMD, particularly its Director General Mrutyunjay Mohapatra, as their accurate predictions enabled us handle the situation ably," the SRC said.
As the cyclone passed along the Odisha coast, it unleashed intense rainfall in several areas of Puri, Khurda, Jagatsinghpur, Cuttack, Kendrapara, Jajpur, Ganjam, Bhadrak and Balasore districts since Tuesday.
Though two deaths were reported in Kendrapara and Bhadrak during the cyclone, the exact reasons are being ascertained, officials said.
A three-month-old child died in Tihidi area of Bhadrak and a team has been sent to the village, they said, adding the exact cause will be ascertained after an autopsy.
A 67-year-old woman died in her house due to natural causes. She was living in a pucca RCC roof house and the cause of death is being ascertained, they added.
Kendrapara Collector Samarth Verma said Rs 12,000 was given as immediate relief and detailed inquiry will be conducted.
As per initial reports, a large number of trees and electric poles have been uprooted, while many thatched and mud houses were flattened due to the cyclonic storm, the SRC said.
No major damage has been done to the telecommunications infrastructure and the services remained by and large unaffected, he said.
Amphan now lay about 170 km east-northeast of Paradip in Odisha, 105 km southeast of Digha (West Bengal) and 240 km southwest of Khepupara (Bangladesh), said H R Biswas, Director of the Meteorological Centre, Bhubaneswar.
The wind speed near the centre of the system is 160-170 kmph, while the wind velocity near Paradip went up to 110-120 kmph in the morning. While wind speed near Paradip has now receded, its velocity along Bhadrak and Balasore coasts was increasing, he said.
It is likely to cross West Bengal-Bangladesh coasts between Digha (West Bengal) and Hatiya island (Bangladesh) close to Sunderbans in the evening, with a maximum sustained wind speed of 155-165 kmph gusting to 185 kmph.
Jena said Paradip recorded 214 mm of rainfall till Wednesday morning, while it was 87 mm in Puri, 70.5 mm in Chandbali, 58.5 mm in Balasore and 50 mm in Bhubaneswar.
Since 8.30 am on Wednesday, Paradip recorded 85.7mm rainfall, Balasore 43.8 mm, Chandbali 40.6 mm, Bhubaneswar 32.7 mm and Puri 16 mm.
People living in thatched, mud and 'kutcha' structures and vulnerable low-lying areas in the coastal districts were persuaded to move to cyclone shelters, he said, adding that many were initially reluctant in view of the COVID-19 scare.
"However, we dispelled their fears as all precautionary measures had been taken to ensure social distancing and hygiene at the cyclone shelters. While masks were provided, hand sanitisers and soaps were placed at the centres," Jena said
While a thorough assessment of damage caused by the cyclone will be made, there are reports of many trees being uprooted in Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara, Bhadrak and Balasore districts.
Many betel vines have also been damaged in Dhinkia area of Jagatsinghpur district, the SRC said, adding response teams have been deployed in all the coastal districts to ensure quick restoration of power and road communication wherever they suffer damage.
Thirty-six teams of NDRF and ODRAF have been deployed in the 12 coastal districts which were put on alert. Ten teams were deployed in Balasore, seven in Bhadrak, six in Kendrapara and five in Jagatsinghpur, he said.
This apart, over 250 teams of fire service and 100 units of Odisha Forest Development Corporation have also been deployed. Roads blocked by uprooted trees are being cleared on a war footing, while power supply, if disrupted, will be restored at the earliest, the SRC said.
The impact of Amphan will gradually subside, he said, adding that the wind speed in several places reached 100-110 kmph, gusting to 125 kmph in northern coastal parts of Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara, Bhadrak, Balasore and Mayurbhanj.
A report from Bhadrak said trees and electric poles were uprooted, blocking roads in several areas.
Heavy downpour accompanied by gusty wind also lashed Kendrapara, where the district administration has evacuated 38,000 people from vulnerable seaside pockets to the safety of multi-purpose cyclone shelter buildings.
Reports of trees and electric poles being uprooted and 'kutcha' houses blown away are coming in from various parts of the district. However, there has been no major damage to life and property so far.
"We have evacuated vulnerable people to maintain zero-causality," said Verma.
Amphan is considered to be the second major cyclonic storm in the Bay of Bengal after the super cyclone of 1999 which had claimed around 10,000 lives and inflicted large-scale devastation in Odisha.
The cyclone comes a year after Fani barrelled through vast parts of Odisha on May 3, claiming at least 64 lives and destroying vital infrastructure.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)