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Massive Cyclone Is Bearing Down on 2 Nations

Amphan, headed toward India and Bangladesh, is 2nd super cyclone ever to form over Bay of Bengal
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 19, 2020 8:00 AM CDT
Updated May 19, 2020 9:00 AM CDT

(Newser) – A powerful cyclone was moving toward India and Bangladesh on Tuesday as authorities tried to evacuate millions of people while maintaining social distancing. Cyclone Amphan is expected to make landfall on Wednesday afternoon, and forecasters warned of extensive damage from high winds, heavy rainfall, tidal waves, and some flooding in crowded cities like Kolkata, per the AP. The cyclone had winds of 136mph to 142mph and is forecast to weaken before it makes landfall around India's West Bengal state and Bangladesh. It's the second super cyclone on record that has formed over the Bay of Bengal, said Mrutyunjay Mohapatra, India's meteorological chief. The first was a devastating 1999 cyclone in Odisha state that left nearly 10,000 people dead. "This type of cyclone can be disastrous," Mohapatra said.

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Videos and photos from India and Bangladesh showed families near the coast or in other flood-prone areas being evacuated to cyclone shelters. Mohapatra noted that tidal waves could move 15 miles inland along the many rivers that crisscross the Bengal delta. Authorities in Bangladesh warned that the cyclone could flood vast swaths of southwestern and southern areas. Fishing trawlers and boats in the Bay of Bengal have been told to take shelter until further notice. Debasis Shyamal, a fisherman in Digha, said evacuations had yet to start in his area, but people were staying indoors. "We are mentally prepared for the cyclone, but there are some concerns about social distancing," he said. After reaching land, the cyclone is expected to move away fast and weaken by Thursday.

(Read more cyclone stories.)

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