A powerful cyclone on Wednesday destroyed tens of thousands of mud houses in eastern India, forcing the closure of Kolkata’s busiest regional airport, as it led to storm surges in coastal areas, the second such event in a week.
Cyclone Yaas was building up gusts of up to 140 km / h (87 mph) when it hit the ground, authorities said, days after Tauktae tore up the west coast, triggering mass evacuations and building pressure on authorities fighting a second deadly wave of the coronavirus.
Authorities said more than a million people had been turned away from the storm’s path as the television broadcast images of rough seas, strong winds and rains lashing the state of Odisha, with shops and houses boarded up.
By noon, the “very severe cyclone” would have swept through the Odisha and its neighbor, West Bengal, meteorological officials said.
West Bengal Prime Minister Mamata Banerjee told reporters that some 20,000 mud houses and temporary shelters were damaged in the state.
“I’ve never seen anything like it before,” said another minister of state, Bankim Hazra, after seawater gushed from the low-lying areas of Sagar Island in the Bay of Bengal and the tourist town of Digha. where a police station was flooded.
“Subsequent high tides hit the coast,” he added. “There is a flood all around and the villages are cut off.”
Kolkata State Airport was closed for flights until Wednesday evening.
Cyclones in the Bay of Bengal are common this time of year and often roar to the ground, bringing death and destruction to coastal areas of India and neighboring Bangladesh.
Police said they rescued 10 people after their boat capsized near the shore in Odisha district of Jagatsinghpur on Tuesday. The Chilka Naval Base is monitoring ships in the area and is ready for rescue operations, the Indian Navy said.
The devastating wave of virus infections complicated preparations for the storm. Odisha officials said they suspended testing, vaccinations and a door-to-door health investigation in the three districts affected by the storm.