All flyovers and elevated corridors were closed to vehicular traffic in Kolkata in view of the approaching ‘extremely heavy cyclonic storm’ Amphan, expected to make a landfall somewhere between East Midnapore’s Digha and Hatiya Island in Bangladesh on Wednesday. The landfall is expected between afternoon and evening.
Police sources said that all flyovers have been barricades with guardrails. Movement of vehicles was suspended on AJC Bose, Maa and Park Street flyovers in the state capital.
Several districts of West Bengal started experiencing strong winds and heavy rain as Amphan (pronounced as UM-PUN) approached closer to the state’s coastal belts on Wednesday afternoon.
Heavy rain started in areas like Namkhana, Frazerganj, Sagar Island, and Kakdwip in Kolkata’s adjoining South 24-Parganas district and East Midnapore’s coastal part Digha and Haldia.
Strong winds with heavy rain had already started in various south Bengal districts since this morning as the cyclonic storm currently lays 120-km south-southeast of Paradip in Odisha, 90-km south of Digha and 190-km of the state capital Kolkata.
Met Department sources said that it can wreak havoc in coastal districts of East Midnapore, South 24-Parganas and North 24-Parganas. Besides, the storm may cause heavy damage in other south Bengal districts like West Midnapore, Murshidabad, Howrah, Hooghly, Kolkata as well.
Eastern Railway (ER) sources said that the departure of 02301 Howrah-New Delhi AC Special Express has been cancelled in view of cyclone Amphan on Wednesday. Similarly, 02302 New Delhi-Howrah AC Special Express on May 21 will also remain cancelled.
West Bengal disaster management authorities are keeping a closed watch on the situation. A control room has been opened at the state Secretariat Nabanno.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has also formed a task force, spearheaded by state Chief Secretary Rajiva Sinha, which is monitoring the relief and rescue operations in cyclone Amphan.
At least seven National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams have been deployed in six West Bengal districts, including East Midnapore, West Midnapore, South 24-Parganas, North 24-Parganas, Hooghly and Howrah.
At least 12 NDRF teams have also been kept on stand-by as the cyclonic storm is likely to hit a large part of the coastal districts with “very heavy rainfall”.
Besides West Bengal, a warning has also been issued for Odisha, Sikkim and Meghalaya till Thursday.