A monster cyclone churns over the Bay of Bengal toward India and Bangladesh, forcing more than 7 million people to evacuate from the two Asian countries’ coastlines. Amphan, now a “super cyclonic storm,” is forecast to lose some strength before it makes landfall Wednesday afternoon local time, but will still likely slam the countries with winds gusting over 110 miles per hour.
As the storm drags ocean water toward the coast and drops torrential rains further inland, flooding is likely to be the biggest threat from Cyclone Amphan. It could have a dangerous impact on one of the most vulnerable refugee populations in the world.
Amphan, which means “sky” in Thai, currently packs the punch of a Category 5 hurricane. It’s expected to hit India’s Bengal and Odisha states Wednesday afternoon before moving on to neighboring Bangladesh.
India is planning to evacuate 5 million people and Bangladeshi officials say they’ll evacuate another 2 million from coastal areas.
Evacuations from low-lying areas was already well underway Tuesday. The Indian government was stockpiling food, drinking water and other essential supplies at multiple places in the two affected states in case areas are cut off by the extreme weather.
One of the biggest challenges will be evacuating people from the numerous Sunderbans, a series of islands nestled in a vast mangrove forest shared by India and Bangladesh. “The farmers will be reluctant to evacuate because there is an unsold agricultural harvest because of the coronavirus lockdown.
This is only the second super cyclone to form over the Bay of Bengal in two decades. In 1999, a super cyclone killed about 10,000 people as it slammed into Odisha.
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