Cyclone Yaas batters India’s east coast leaving tens of thousands homeless

At least three people died and tens of thousands were made homeless when a powerful cyclone swept into eastern India from the Bay of Bengal on Wednesday, inundating hundreds of low-lying villages, officials said.

Cyclone Yaas was packing gusts of up to 140 kilometers per hour (87 mph), the equivalent of a Category 1 Atlantic hurricane, as it made landfall.

It arrives just days after another cyclone tore up the western coast, triggering mass evacuations and piling pressure on authorities battling a deadly second wave of the coronavirus.

In West Bengal, an eastern state that borders Bangladesh, authorities said around 1,100 villages had been flooded by storm surges, leaving at least 50,000 homeless. “But the figure may rise as reports are yet to reach us from interior areas,” state minister Bankim Hazra told Reuters.

Photos from the state show roads turned into rivers, with cars toppled and half-submerged. People wade through knee-high water to reach cyclone shelters; huts and small houses lie crumpled in piles of debris.

Across the state, rising waters breached river embankments in more than 100 locations, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee told reporters. It killed at least three people, affected more than 10 million residents in the state, and damaged more than 300,000 houses, she said on Wednesday.