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Cyclone Amphan makes landfall in India and Bangladesh as millions evacuated

The Washington Post logo The Washington Post 2020-05-20 Joanna Slater, Niha Masih
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(Video by Reuters)

NEW DELHI —One of the most powerful storms in decades slammed into low-lying coastal areas of India and Bangladesh, bringing winds as high as 120 miles an hour and surging waters of up to 16 feet

Cyclone Amphan had weakened as it approached land but remains an extremely potent storm with the capacity to inflict enormous damage.

More than 2 million people have already evacuated their homes, according to authorities in the two countries, moving to emergency shelters even as coronavirus infections rise.

The outer wall of the cyclone reached land in the mid-afternoon local time, tearing into the delta at the top of the Bay of Bengal where India and Bangladesh meet. The region has witnessed some of the world’s deadliest storms, including a cyclone in 1999 that killed 10,000 people in India.

a group of people walking on a pier: The promenade along the Bay of Bengal coast stands deserted ahead of Cyclone Amphan landfall, at Chandbali, in the eastern Indian state of Odisha, May 20, 2020. © AP/AP The promenade along the Bay of Bengal coast stands deserted ahead of Cyclone Amphan landfall, at Chandbali, in the eastern Indian state of Odisha, May 20, 2020.

Both India and Bangladesh have invested in a system of emergency shelters that has allowed them to weather several major cyclones in recent years with comparatively fewer deaths than in the past. Cyclone Amphan will mark a major test for the two countries.

Of particular worry is the cyclone’s devastating storm surge, with waters expected to rise as much as 16 feet higher than normal tides, causing potentially deadly flooding. Indian authorities said they expected extensive damage to dwellings with thatched roofs, electricity poles and communications infrastructure. They also cited the danger from flying objects in the high winds.

Images from the coast of the Indian states of Odisha and West Bengal on Tuesday showed torrential rain, lashing winds and uprooted trees as the storm neared land. Kolkata, one of India’s largest cities whose metropolitan area is home to nearly 15 million people, is in the storm’s path. Officials there urged everyone to stay at home.

niha.masih@washpost.com 

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(Video by NBC News)

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