The India Meteorological Department on Thursday afternoon said that the cyclonic storm Yaas had turned into a “deep depression” and was centred over south Jharkhand and its neighbouring areas. It was expected to move nearly northwards and weaken into a depression within a few hours.
The aftermath of the cyclone brought heavy rain to several parts of Jharkhand, including capital city Ranchi. West Bengal, Odisha, Bihar and east Uttar Pradesh will also receive light to very heavy rainfall in some areas of the states.
“Squally wind speed reaching 50-60 kmph gusting to 70 kmph would prevail over south Jharkhand and adjoining districts of north interior districts of Odisha and West Bengal during next three hours and decrease gradually thereafter,” the bulletin read.
India Meteorological Department senior scientist RK Jenamani told ANI that the impact of the depression was expected to remain for 36 more hours. “Red Alert issued in Bihar, Jharkhand and part of UP following heavy rainfall activity for today [Thursday] and tomorrow [Friday],” he said.
Till Wednesday night, at least four people were killed – three in Odisha and one in West Bengal – due to the impact of the cyclone. The cyclonic storm, Yaas, made landfall around 8.30 am at Dhamra in Odisha’s Bhadrak district.
The United Nations on Wednesday said it had “activated cyclone preparedness measures and prepositioned stocks of food and other items”. The world body also noted that the country was facing a Covid-19 surge and expressed concern about physical distancing at emergency shelters.
“UN agencies and our partners in India stand ready to support the response efforts if State authorities request it,” he said. “We are concerned that the lack of social distancing in emergency shelters and the temporary suspension of vaccination campaigns could complicate already complicated efforts.”
The state was on high alert and a complete lockdown was imposed in some parts to ensure that residents do not venture out into the sea. Evacuations were done in low-lying areas ahead of the storm’s arrival in the state. At least 10,000 residents were moved to safer areas on Wednesday, PTI reported, citing officials.
“Operations are being executed on a war-footing in vulnerable areas in East and West Singhbhum, besides some other districts which are expected to be hit by the cyclonic storm Yaas,” Disaster Management Secretary Amitabh Kaushal said, according to the Hindustan Times.
East Singhbhum District’s Deputy Commissioner Suraj Kumar told the newspaper that the area was getting heavy rainfall and there was damage to power transmission networks. Trees were also uprooted in the aftermath of the cyclonic storm, he added.
Low-lying areas of the state were flooded, rendered thousands homeless as the state began the restoration process to normalcy. Authorities told Reuters that close to 1,100 villages were inundated, and 50,000 people were now homeless.
“But the figure may rise as reports are yet to reach us from interior areas,” West Bengal minister Bankim Hazra told the news agency.
Overflowing rivers spilled on to residential areas, damaging 20,000 mud homes and causing the death of at least one person in the state on Wednesday.
Heavy rain and sea water flooded close to 120 villages in the state, but timely evacuations were already done in these parts, Odisha government official Suresh Mahapatra told Reuters.
The official said that several doctors and hospital staff had remained stationed at their medical facilities and important services were being carried out without disruptions. “All hospitals, including COVID hospitals, are running smoothly,” he told the agency.
On Thursday afternoon, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik conducted an aerial survey of areas affected due to the cyclone, reported ANI.
“Appreciate all the district administrations for early preparedness, continuous monitoring of the situation, quick restoration of water and electricity supply,” the Odisha CMO said in a statement on Twitter. “Unwavering focus on the principle, ‘every life is precious’ helps in saving lives during such disasters.”