The cyclone Amphan, the most powerful since the beginning of the century in the bay of Bengal, was located Wednesday afternoon to reach the coasts of India and Bangladesh, which have evacuated more than three million people, and fear of damage.
Amphan (pronounced ” um-pun “) must touch the ground at around 18 pm local (12: 30 GMT) at the level of the border between India and Bangladesh, south of the city of Calcutta, with winds of up to 185 km/h. The meteorologists fear a potential storm surge (tidal wave) that could go up to five metres high.
“The process of landing started at 14: 30 (local time). This will continue for about four hours, ” said on Twitter the meteorological service of india.
Bangladesh has protected 2.4 million people living in coastal areas of low elevation. In eastern India, more than 650 000 people have been evacuated in the State of west Bengal and in the neighbouring region of Odisha.
Abandoning their homes, their possessions and sometimes their livestock, evacuees huddle by the hundreds in shelters, worried just as much of the storm as the risk of being infected by the new coronavirus in these confined spaces. Sub-national are currently in place in India and Bangladesh since the end of march.
“The room was packed and maintain the detachment physics is impossible here. It all depends on God now. Only God can save us “, said to AFP Rumki Khatun, a Bangladeshi 25-year-old refugee with his son of five months in a school in the city of Dacope.
Despite the official recommendations of putting on a mask in the shelters anticyclone, many of the displaced do not wear it by talking, found a team from the AFP on the spot.
Appeared this weekend in the sea, Amphan was reached Monday, the category 4 out of 5 on the scale of Saffir-Simpson scale, with winds between 200 and 240 km/h. It is the cyclone-the most powerful to be born in the bay of Bengal since 1999, when a cyclone killed 10,000 people in Odisha.
Trees and poles uprooted
Despite the loss of power of the cyclone in the past few hours as it approaches the coast, the authorities in india and bangladesh expect to huge material damage.
In the seaside resort of india Digha, high waves washed the shore before the arrival of the cyclone. “There is a strong wind and it is raining. Many trees and electric poles were ripped out “, reported the AFP Partha Tripathi, the owner of the local hotel reached by telephone.
Before they even arrive on the coast, the cyclone has already taken a first death in Bangladesh. A Red Crescent volunteer local was drowned when wind gusts toppled his boat on a river during the evacuation of villagers in the coastal town of Kalapara.
The countries of the region have learned the lessons of the devastating cyclones of the previous decades : they have built these past few years thousands of shelters for the population and developed policies for speedy evacuation.
Their task is, however, complicated this time by the outbreak of coronavirus, the displacement of populations may promote the spread. Bangladesh has opened nearly 15 000 shelters anticyclone, which is triple the usual number, so that they are less loaded.
For fear of catching the disease COVID-19, a part of inhabitants of areas at risk, however, has chosen to stay at home, despite the danger.
“We heard that the shelter anticyclone near the police station was full to bursting. There is more room there. My neighbors and my family are not gone for fear of the sars coronavirus “, reported the AFP Sulata Munda, a villager from the district’s bangladeshi Shymanagar, which forms part of these recalcitrant.
“We think it’s going to go. If need be, we bougerons later, ” assured the mother of four children.
If the intensity of cyclones has increased in recent years in the bay of Bengal, a phenomenon partly attributed to climate change, the reports on humans are generally much lower than in the past thanks to a system of surveillance more developed and preventive measures well broken in.