Lakhs of people have been evacuated from low-lying coastal areas and the process of evacuation was still underway in some places like Balasore on Wednesday morning, Special Relief Commissioner (SRC), P K Jena, said.
Intense rainfall was recorded in several areas of Puri, Khurda, Jagatsinghpur, Cuttack, Kendrapara, Jajpur, Ganjam, Ganjam, Bhadrak and Balasore districts since Tuesday, officials said.
The extremely severe cyclonic storm lay about 120 km east-southeast of Paradip in Odisha, 200 km south of Digha (West Bengal) and 360 km southwest of Khepupara (Bangladesh), said H R Biswas, the Director of the Meteorological Centre, Bhubaneswar. The current intensity of wind speed near the centre of the system stood at 170 to 180 kmph, while the wind velocity near Paradip was 102 kmph. Near Chandbali the wind speed was 74 kmph, he said.
It is likely to move north-northeastwards across northwest Bay of Bengal and cross West Bengal Bangladesh coasts between Digha (West Bengal) and Hatiya Islands (Bangladesh) close to Sunderbans during evening hours of Wednesday, with a maximum sustained wind speed of 155-165 kmph gusting to 185 kmph.
The system is now being continuously tracked by the Doppler Weather Radar (DWR) at Vishakhapatnam, Paradip and Gopalpur. Jena said Paradip recorded 214 mm of rainfall since Tuesday, while it was 87 mm in Puri, 70.5 mm in Chandbali, 58.5 mm in Balasore and 50 mm in Bhubaneswar as heavy downpour battered many parts of coastal Odisha.
People living in thatched, mud and ‘kucha’ structures are being persuaded to move to the cyclone shelters for their safety, he said, adding that many people were initially reluctant to shift in view of COVID-19 scare.
While a thorough assessment of damage caused by the cyclone will be made, there are reports of many trees being uprooted from different areas including Erasama and Paradip in Jagatsinghpur district. Response teams have been deployed in all the coastal districts to ensure quick restoration of power and road communication wherever they suffer damage.
The impact of Amphan will remain in the state till the afternoon, he said, adding that the wind speed in some places is expected to reach 100 kmph to 110 kmph gusting to 125 kmph in northern coastal parts of Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara, Bhadrak, Balasore and Mayurbhanj districts during the period.
Heavy downpour accompanied by gusty wind also lashed Kendrapara where district administration has evacuated 38,000 people from vulnerable seaside pockets to the safety of multi-purpose cyclone shelter buildings.
“We have evacuated vulnerable people to maintain zero-causality,” said Kendrapara Collector Samath 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 barreled through vast parts of Odisha on May 3.