MILLIONS of people in eastern India and Bangladesh were yesterday being evacuated from coastal areas expected to suffer widespread damage from a super cyclone.
Amphan, one of the worst storms in the region in a decade, and equivalent to a category 5 hurricane, was expected to made landfall today, with preparations hampered by the coronavirus crisis.
It is feared winds of up to 98mph could bring tidal waves and flooding.
‘We have just hours left to evacuate and we also have to maintain social distancing norms,’ Indian disaster management official S.G. Rai said.
Families in the states of Odisha and West Bengal were being moved to shelters and hastily repurposed Covid-19 quarantine facilities. The virus has infected more than 100,000 and killed 3,163 in the country.
Railway officials diverted trains carrying thousands of migrant workers to eastern states from the capital, New Delhi, away from the cyclone’s path.
In Bangladesh, people were moved to higher ground and urged to use masks against the virus, which has caused 20,995 infections and 314 deaths.
About 12,000 cyclone shelters were set up for more than 5million people.
Amphan is due to land 93 miles from camps housing 1million Rohingya refugees. Aid workers have stockpiled food, tarpaulins and water purification tablets. Red Cross worker Haiko Magtrayo said: ‘We are really very worried.’