Cyclone Yaas maroons villages in Odisha, 1 crore hit in Bengal

By Express News Service
Fortunately, it hit the coast with much less force than predicted when it made landfall; rains and tidal wave surge inundate 128 villages in Balasore and Bhadrak districts;  three Bengal districts similarly affected.

BHUBANESWAR/KOLKATA : Accompanied by pounding rains and a gale force, cyclone Yaas barrelled through coastal Odisha on Wednesday morning, leaving behind a trail of destruction, but it did not quite live up to its hype of a super storm. Mercifully.

Around 9 am, Yaas, a very severe cyclonic storm, made landfall in Bahanaga panchayat area, about 20 km south of Balasore. It pummelled two districts Balasore and Bhadrak – while sparing more coastal districts along its way – where most damage was to kutcha houses, roads and trees as well as power infrastructure. Over 128 villages were marooned following the storm-induced rain and tidal surge, which caused more damage to dwelling units in villages located close to the coast.

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While there was no official word of any cyclone-related death, two casualties were reported from Balasore and Keonjhar districts. The government had, by Tuesday night, evacuated over 6 lakh people from low-lying areas, which helped avoid loss of lives. 

An inundated room of a hospital at Kakdwip in Bengal’s South 24 Parganas on Wednesday | Irfana/PTI

Yaas hit the coast with much less force than predicted. The IMD had forecast gale wind reaching over 150 km per hour, gusting up to 185 km, as peak intensity. It was downgraded to 130-140 km by Tuesday late night. Before and during landfall, which continued for about three hours, the maximum wind speed reached close to 120-130 kmph at the most. At some places, it was around 90 kmph. Though there was prediction that Bhubaneswar and Cuttack would be hit by 80-90 kmph wind, it did not happen. 

“It may be because the system had more gale force wind on its right side (the seaside) as compared to its left side (landmass) when it made landfall. It is good that the impact was much lesser on Odisha side,” IMD Director General Mrutyunjay Mohapatra told TNIE. 

ALSO READ | Sea water inundates residential areas in coastal Bengal as cyclone ‘Yaas’ unleashes fury

But, as the storm progressed northwestwards, Mohapatra said the entire belt from Baliapal in Odisha to Digha in Bengal towards its right flank faced a tidal surge of about four metres, inundating low-lying areas in the coastal villages. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said nearly 1 crore people in the coastal districts of East Midnapore, North 24 Parganas and South 24 Parganas were affected. There were also reports of a person’s death in East Midnapore. Mamata will conduct a two-day aerial survey of the districts to assess the damage.