“KOLKATA, India/DHAKA – India and Bangladesh evacuated around half a million people out of the way of the most powerful storm in a decade ahead of its landfall on Wednesday amid fears of heavy damage to houses and crops and disruption of road, rail and power links.
The authorities’ task to save lives was complicated by ongoing efforts to curb the coronavirus pandemic and enforce social distancing to avoid a surge of infections. Many thousands of migrant workers are on the roads trying to get home from big cities after a nationwide lockdown destroyed their livelihoods.
Approaching from the Bay of Bengal, super cyclone Amphan was expected to hit the coast of eastern India and southern Bangladesh with winds gusting up to 185 kmh (115 mph) – the equivalent of a category 5 hurricane.
The Indian weather department forecast a storm surge of 10- to 16-foot waves – as high as a two-storey house – that could swamp mud dwellings along the coast, uproot communication towers and inundate roads and rail tracks.”