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article imageMass evacuations in India, Bangladesh ahead of 'Super Cyclone'

By Karen Graham     May 19, 2020 in Environment
Super Cyclone Amphan, the strongest storm ever recorded in the Bay of Bengal, is expected to make landfall near the border between India and Bangladesh on Wednesday in a region already struggling with the coronavirus pandemic.
The governments of India and Bangladesh are evacuating hundreds of thousands of people who are in the direct path of Super Cyclone Amphan - which is due to make landfall in about 36 hours, reports CNN.
The dangerous cyclone is now the strongest storm ever recorded in the Bay of Bengal on Monday night, after intensifying with sustained wind speeds of up to 270 kilometers per hour (165 miles per hour), according to data from the US Joint Typhoon Warning Center.
While the storm has now weakened slightly, it is still the equivalent of a Category 3 hurricane, with sustained winds speeds up to 185 kph (115 mph).
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US Joint Typhoon Warning Center
The storm is expected to make landfall along the West Bengal coast in the afternoon of May 20 between Digha in West Bengal and Hatia island in Bangladesh as an extremely severe cyclonic storm. India's national weather service is predicting that the water surge from this intense storm could be as high as 10 to 16 feet, according to Forbes.
“We have just about six hours left to evacuate people from their homes and we also have to maintain social distancing norms,” a disaster management official, S.G. Rai, told Reuters. “The cyclone could wash away thousands of huts and standing crops.”
The last time a super cyclone hit the Bay of Bengal was in 1999. The cost of the destruction brought about by that cyclone was approximated at US$4.44 billion, with the Government of India identifying 9,887 fatalities in the country.
In Bangladesh, besides the coronavirus which has caused 20,995 infections and 314 deaths, there is the added danger to more than a million Rohingya refugees living in flimsy shelters.
Refugee camps housing more than a million Rohingya in flimsy shelters lie just 150 km (93 miles) from where the storm is expected to hit. Hundreds of more Rohinga refugees are living on the flood-prone island of Bhasan Char.
More about super cyclone, India, Bangladesh, Bay of bengal, Evacuations
 
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