Cyclone Amphan reaches the border region of India and Bangladesh on Wednesday afternoon. It is feared that the storm, which will bring a lot of rain and gusts of wind at an average of 200 kilometers per hour, will cause great damage.
The cyclone enters the countries via the south coast of the Indian state of West Bengal and the Sundarbans, an ecologically sensitive area on the border of India and Bangladesh known for its mangrove forests and rare animals such as the endangered Bengal tiger.
According to the Indian weather service, Amphan is the first super cyclone in the Bay of Bengal since 1999. More than nine thousand were killed that year.
The region where the cyclone comes ashore is low-lying and has many rivers. Severe flooding is expected to be caused by storm surge and excessive rainfall. Crops are in danger of being destroyed and large tracts of fertile land can be washed away. A large part of the population also lives in huts, which makes them extra vulnerable.
Bangladesh evacuates two million people
Bangladesh has evacuated more than two million people from coastal areas in recent days, the Ministry of Disaster Response and Emergency Relief reports Wednesday. According to the Red Cross, some 14 million people live in Bangladesh on the cyclone’s predicted path.
The evacuations present additional challenges due to the coronavirus: as much distance as possible must be kept in Bangladesh as well. The number of reception centers in Bangladesh has doubled to 12,078 to ensure safe distance and hygiene.
Due to the lockdown in India, hundreds of thousands of migrant workers from major cities are returning to villages in the eastern states of West Bengal and Odisha. Quarantine facilities are being converted into reception centers to accommodate residents from coastal areas. School buildings and other large buildings are also used as temporary reception locations.
Police in the Indian state of West Bengal, which is expected to be severely affected by the storm, report on Wednesday that many people are not willing to go to the shelter because they are afraid of contracting the corona virus. They also refuse to leave their livestock behind. That is why the Indian Red Cross has also set up animal shelters.