Press Trust of india

Cyclone Amphan: One lakh shifted to safety in Bengal, masks given to evacuees

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Kolkata: The West Bengal government has evacuated one lakh people from the coastal districts and is in the process of shifting 1.5 lakh more as super-cyclone Amphan nears the shores of the state, a minister said on Tuesday.

The state has put the coastal districts of East Midnapore, North 24 Parganas and South 24 Parganas, including the Sundarbans — home to the majestic Royal Bengal Tiger — on high alert, Disaster Management Minister Javed Khan said.

“We have already evacuated around one lakh people, mostly from the low-lying areas, and set a target of evacuating 1.5 lakh more by Tuesday night.

“The evacuees have been put up at cyclone shelters, schools and colleges. Our experience in tackling cyclones Fani and Bulbul last year will be put to good use,” he said.

The government, in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, has distributed more than two lakh masks among the evacuees and personal protective equipment (PPE) kits have been handed out to the State Disaster Relief Force (SDRF) personnel deployed in the vulnerable areas, a senior official said.

“Around 4,000 SDRF personnel are monitoring the evacuation operation. The entire fishermen community has been asked not to venture out to the sea for the next two days and those who were at sea have been asked to return,” the official of the Disaster Management department said.

Relief materials, dry food and tarpaulin have been dispatched to the coastal areas, he added.

“We are taking all possible measures to tackle contingencies, if any. Special control rooms have been set up to monitor the situation. We are giving the necessary instructions through public address systems,” the official said.

Quick response teams comprising trained civil defence volunteers and vehicles with safety gears have already reached the districts. The State Emergency Operation Centre, functioning at the secretariat, is in constant touch with the exigency units set up at the districts, the official said.

Along with the NDRF and SDRF personnel, fire service teams have also been positioned in the vulnerable areas.

For the post-cyclone restoration work, engineers of the Public Works Department and officials of the Rural Development and Water Resources departments have been asked to kept teams ready for an immediate repair of the damaged roads, the Disaster Management department official said.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had earlier said the NDRF and SDRF personnel were prepared to deal with eventualities and rescue those hit by the cyclone.

“We will be monitoring the situation for cyclone ‘Amphan’ 24X7. Chief Secretary Rajiva Sinha, Home Secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay and the secretary of the Disaster Management department will keep a close watch on the developments,” she had said.

Cyclone Amphan (pronounced UM-PUN) is expected to make landfall on Wednesday afternoon between Digha in West Bengal and Hatia island in Bangladesh as an extremely severe cyclonic storm with wind speeds ranging up to 195 kmph.

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