Two Million Evacuated As “Severe Cyclonic Storm” Hits India's Eastern Coast

Torrential rains, howling winds, and tidal surges from Cyclone Yaas wreak havoc in eastern India as the virus-stricken country experiences its second cyclone in less than two weeks, according to Bloomberg

More than two million people were evacuated from the eastern states of Odisha and West Bengal as Yaas made landfall Wednesday morning, destroying homes, farms and affecting ten million people. 

West Bengal’s Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said Yaas had destroyed more than 300,000 homes in the state, adding that crops have been swamped, livestock farms have been devastated, and river embankments have been breached. He said around 1.5 million were evacuated ahead of landfall. In neighboring Odisha, more than 500,000 people were evacuated. 

The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) continues to define Yaas as a “very severe cyclonic storm.” 

“Landfall process of Cyclone Yaas is complete. Between 1030 am (05:00 GMT) to 11.30 am (06:00 GMT), it crossed 20km (12 miles) south from the Balasore coast,” IMD director-general Mrutyunjay Mohapatra told Al Jazeera.

“The cyclone is now moving towards Mayurbhanj district and Jharkhand (state),” he said.

This is the second storm in ten days to batter India. Last week, cyclone Tauktae, categorized as “extremely severe,” barreled through the country’s western coast and sank a drilling rig, killing dozens. 

The twin disasters come as India is battling the second wave of COVID-19, increasing pressure on hospitals and medical workers. 

“This cyclone spells double trouble for millions of people in India as there is no respite from COVID-19,” said Udaya Regmi, the South Asia head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

Hazra said it would be near impossible to maintain social distancing in the emergency shelters.

… and it’s a good thing India is preparing to unleash another stimulus package as the latest surge in infections and cyclones could hamper the nation’s economic recovery.  

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