Cyclone’s Winds, Rain Lash India Coast After 1.1M Evacuated

Heavy rain and a high tide lashed parts of India’s eastern coast as a cyclone pushed ashore Wednesday in an area where more than 1.1 million people have evacuated amid a devastating coronavirus surge.

Cyclone Yaas already had caused two deaths and damage to homes as severe weather and rains affected Odisha and West Bengal states before the storm began making landfall in the late morning.

The “very severe cyclonic storm” has sustained winds of 130-140 kilometers per hour (up to 87 mph) that are gusting up to 155 kph (97 mph), the India Meteorological Department said.

“The landfall process of the storm has started, centered nearly 50 kilometers (30 miles) southeast of Balasore in Odisha state,” it said. Heavy rain and the sea tide flooded parts of coastal areas in West Bengal and Odisha states.

Television images showed knee-deep water flooding the beach area of Digha, a resort town in West Bengal state. Palm trees were whipped back and forth by strong wind gusts.

A tornado snapped electricity lines that electrocuted two people and damaged 40 houses in West Bengal’s Hooghly district on Tuesday, the top state elected official Mamata Banerjee said.

Kolkata airport is shut until 8 p.m. and train services were canceled before the storm as a precaution, the railroad department said.