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regular-article-logo Thursday, 13 June 2024

Cyclone Remal leaves devastation in its wake as it makes landfall in coastal West Bengal

'Remal' flattened fragile dwellings, uprooted trees and knocked down electric poles. One person was injured after being hit by debris in the Gosaba area of the Sundarbans

Our Web Desk, PTI Calcutta Published 27.05.24, 04:27 AM
Representational image.

Representational image. File Photo

With winds gusting up to 135 kilometres per hour, severe cyclonic storm 'Remal' made landfall between the coasts of Bangladesh and adjoining West Bengal, bringing heavy rains that flooded homes and farmland, and leaving a trail of destruction.

The landfall process began at 8:30 pm on Sunday over the adjacent coasts of West Bengal and Bangladesh between Sagar Island and Khepupara, near the southwest of Mongla in the neighbouring country.

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'Remal' flattened fragile dwellings, uprooted trees and knocked down electric poles. One person was injured after being hit by debris in the Gosaba area of the Sundarbans.

More than one lakh people were evacuated from vulnerable areas in West Bengal before the cyclone struck.

"Severe cyclonic storm Remal made landfall between Sagar Island in West Bengal and Khepupara in Bangladesh on Sunday night with wind speeds reaching up to 135 kmph," the meteorological office said.

News footage showed gigantic tidal waves crashing into a seawall in coastal resort town of Digha.

The vast coastline was blurred by thick sheets of rain as the cyclone made landfall, with surging waters sweeping fishing boats inland and inundating mud-and-thatch houses and farmlands in low-lying areas.

In Kolkata's Bibir Bagan area, one person was injured when a wall collapsed due to a heavy downpour.

Reports from North and South 24 Parganas and East Midnapore districts stated roofs of thatched houses were blown away, electric poles twisted and trees uprooted in several areas.

Streets and homes in low-lying areas adjoining Kolkata were inundated.

1.10 lakh people moved to cyclone shelters

The West Bengal government shifted around 1.10 lakh people from coastal and vulnerable areas to cyclone shelters, schools and colleges by Sunday late afternoon.

Evacuation efforts focused on relocating people from South 24 Parganas district, especially Sagar Island, Sundarbans and Kakdwip, according to an official.

PM chairs review meeting

Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a meeting to review the response and preparedness for the storm, while West Bengal Governor Dr CV Ananda Bose monitored the situation closely.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee urged people to stay at home and assuring them of her government's support.

KMC swings into action

Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) authorities evacuated people from high-rises and dilapidated buildings, according to Mayor Firhad Hakim.

Hakim mentioned that 15,000 civic employees were mobilised to address post-cyclone scenarios, with equipment ready for quick removal of large uprooted trees.

The cyclone caused light rains and winds in areas like Digha, Kakdwip and Jaynagar, which is expected to intensify on Monday.

Note from IMD

The India Meteorological Department's eastern regional head Somnath Dutta indicated that southern Bengal districts would experience increasing winds and rainfall.

Fourteen National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams were deployed across districts in south Bengal, including Kolkata. The state government has readied SDRF teams and worked with the KMC. Relief materials and quick response teams were in place.

Flights, trains disrupted

Cyclone Remal has caused significant disruptions in air, rail and road transportation in Kolkata and other parts of southern Bengal.

The Eastern and South Eastern Railways cancelled some trains, and the Kolkata airport suspended flight operations for 21 hours, affecting 394 flights.

The Syama Prasad Mookerjee Port in Kolkata has also suspended operations.

The Indian Coast Guard (ICG) ensured no loss of life or property at sea, with remote operating stations alerting vessels and ships. Nine disaster relief teams were on standby.

Indian Navy keeps an eye out

The Indian Navy has readied two ships equipped with Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) and medical supplies, with aviation assets on standby for rapid response. Specialised diving teams and flood relief teams have also been prepared for deployment.

Red alert in Assam

A 'red alert' was issued for extremely heavy rainfall in seven districts of Assam, and an 'orange alert' in 11 districts, according to an official release.

The Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA) has alerted residents and authorities, emphasising safety measures as the cyclone, after hitting West Bengal and Bangladesh on May 26, is predicted to move towards the Northeast.

Bangladesh evacuates over 8 lakh people

On Sunday night, Bangladesh authorities evacuated over 800,000 people from vulnerable areas of the country's low-lying southwestern coastlines to shelters.

"The cyclone has made landfall and started crossing the West Bengal coast in India through the south-west side of Mongla and Khepupara coast of Bangladesh around 8:30 pm (local time)," a met office spokesman told reporters.

Calcutta airport deserted

The terminal building of Calcutta airport wore a deserted look following the suspension of flight operations shortly after noon on Sunday due to the looming threat of 'Remal'.

Such a sight was unprecedented, as the airport, typically teeming with activity like any other international hub, now stood deserted, save for security personnel, Airports Authority of India staff, and a handful of airline employees.

Saturday saw the airport authorities making the decision to halt flight operations for 21 hours starting from Sunday noon.

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