By Jatindra Dash
BHUBANESWAR, India (Reuters) – A powerful cyclone with winds gusting to 140 kph (87 mph) has begun landfall in eastern India, the weather office said on Wednesday, warning of tidal surges in the coastal areas.
Cyclone Yaas is the second storm to hit India within a week after Tauktae tore up the western coast, causing mass evacuations and piling up the pressure on authorities trying to tackle a deadly second of coronavirus infections.
Television showed rough seas and strong winds and rains lashing the eastern state of Odisha. Shops and homes were boarded up.
The weather office said the “very severe cyclone” had begun landfall and will cross Odisha and neighbouring West Bengal states by noon.
More than a million people have been moved out of the storm’s path, authorities said. Storm surges have been forecast in the low lying areas of Odisha and West Bengal.
Police said they had rescued 10 people whose boat capsized near the shore in Odisha’s Jagatsinghpur district on Tuesday.
The Indian navy said its naval base Chilka was monitoring ships in the area and was ready to mount rescue and relief operations.
Cyclones in the Bay of Bengal are common at this time of year, and often roar ashore, causing deaths and destruction in coastal areas of both India and Bangladesh.
A devastating second wave of coronavirus infections complicated storm preparations. Officials in Odisha said they had suspended testing, vaccination and door-to-door health survey in the three districts that lay directly in the storm’s path.
(Writing by Sanjeev Miglani; Editing by Michael Perry)