Yaas ravages Odisha, West Bengal; 4 dead; Jharkhand stays on high alert

Yaas ravages Odisha, West Bengal; 4 dead; Jharkhand stays on high alert

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Cyclone Yaas, packing winds of up to 130-145 kmph, whiplashed the country’s eastern coasts on Wednesday, dumping heavy rain, damaging houses and farmlands, and leaving at least four persons dead — three in Odisha and one in Bengal — officials said.

Sheets of rain blurred the vast coastline, as the cyclone made landfall around 9 am near Dhamra port in Odisha, with surging waters swamping the mud-and-thatch houses in the low-lying areas, where a massive evacuation drive has been undertaken to move more than 2 million people to safety.

The storm, which had weakened during the afternoon, had left the coastal states on edge, with the Bengal government claiming that at least 10 million people have been affected by the calamity thus far, as it hollered on its destructive path towards Jharkhand. Yaas is the second cyclonic storm to hit India within a week after Tauktae tore into its western coast, causing death and destruction.

Seawater inundated several villages in Bahanaga and Remuna blocks in the Balasore district, and Dhamra and Basudevpur in the Bhadrak district, Odisha’s special relief commissioner PK Jena said. The administration, with the help of the locals, is taking measures to drain out the saline water from the villages, Jena explained.

Heavy rainfall in the Similipal National Park in Mayurbhanj district sparked fears of a flash flood in the Budhabalang river. By afternoon, the water level in the river stood at 21 metre against the danger level of 27 metre, the commissioner said.

Restoration work for power lines have started in several places of Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara and Jajpur districts after cables snapped, Jena said, adding that the storm will likely move to Jharkhand by midnight.

“Due to the lunar eclipse and high tide, the situation worsened and the sea swelled and the damages were huge in Bengal. Various villages have been inundated in several districts,” West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee said.

The Army has deployed 17 columns in West Bengal to assist the administration, the defence official said. Rescue operation by the Army was also underway at Orphuli in the Howrah district, he said.

Several rivers were in spate owing to the phenomenal rise in water level — caused by the dual effect of storm surge and the astronomical tide due to the full moon.

Jharkhand, which is already on high alert, continued evacuating low-lying areas during the day amid forecast that the cyclone would be hitting the state by midnight, officials in Ranchi said.

East Singhbhum, West Singhbhum and Saraikela-Kharsawan districts of the state are likely to experience wind of 92-117 kmph, the weather office said. “We are ready to deal with the situation and have formed rescue teams,” Jharkhand DGP Neeraj Sinha stated.

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