At least three people have died as Cyclone Amphan impacted coastal areas of West Bengal and Odisha states on Wednesday, May 20. The storm system made landfall as a very severe cyclone with winds of around 160 kph (100 mph) near Sagar Island (West Bengal) at around 17:00 (local time). As of 19:30 the center of the storm was close to Kolkata and packing winds of 130-140 kph (81-87 mph). Initial reports indicate that thousands of houses, other fragile structures, and power lines have been damaged by the storm across coastal areas of West Bengal and Odisha, and at least three people died in unknown circumstances in West Bengal. In addition to strong winds, heavy rain and storm surges also threaten to cause flooding in coastal areas. The storm system is forecast to weaken as it tracks north-northeastwards over West Bengal's border area with Bangladesh, though still carrying strong winds and heavy rain as it passes.
Authorities evacuated around 650,000 people from vulnerable coastal areas in Odisha and West Bengal as the storm approached. Extra shelters have been prepared as many shelters were already being used as coronavirus disease (COVID-19) quarantine centers. A full estimate of the toll on life and extent of damage is likely to become clearer over the coming days.
Further inclement weather and storm surges are forecast in the coming hours, followed by residual flooding and associated disruptions to transport and business operations over the near term.
Individuals in the affected areas are advised to monitor local weather reports, adhere to instructions issued by local authorities, anticipate adverse weather and power and transportation disruptions, and remember that running water can be dangerous - 15 cm (6 in) is enough to knock over an adult.
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