West Bengal, Odisha On Alert As Cyclone Bulbul Draws Near: 10 Points

The Khulna region is expected to be the hardest hit

The Khulna region is expected to be the hardest hit

Cyclone "Bulbul", which was centred 190 km south-southwest of Sagar Islands at 5.30 am on Saturday, is likely to weaken gradually and cross the coast between Sagar Islands of West Bengal and Khepupara in Bangladesh with a reduced force as a severe cyclonic storm, the Met department said.

Operations in Kolkata airport have been suspended till 6 am Sunday while the West Bengal government said that over 1.2 lakh have been evacuated from coastal areas as the state braces for the severe cyclonic storm Bulbul to make landfall today evening.

The cyclone is unlikely to make the landfall in Odisha, but the state will face heavy to very heavy rainfall in its coastal and northern districts in the next two days, Bhubaneswar Meteorological Centre Director HR Biswas said. 1070 people have been evacuated to several shelters by the Kendrapara district administration and 1050 people have been evacuated from Balasore and Jagatsingpur districts.

According to the press statement, a similar situation is likely to prevail in coastal West Bengal on November 9.

"We've already evacuated some 391,000 people", he said.

Authorities suspended all activities in the country's main seaports, including in Chittagong, which handles nearly 80% of Bangladesh's exports and imports.

All flights at in and out of Kolkata airport were suspended for 12 hours and military planes and ships have been put on standby, Indian authorities said.

Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, Dr PK Mishra held a high-level meeting on Thursday with the Chief Secretaries of Odisha, West Bengal and Union Territory of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, to review their preparedness to deal with the natural calamity.

In 1999, a super-cyclone battered the coast of India's Odisha state for 30 hours, killing 10,000 people. The weather department has warned of heavy to extremely heavy rainfall with winds speed up to 120 kmph. Its path included the southwestern Khulna region, which has the world's largest mangrove forest, the Sundarbans, which straddles the Bangladesh-India border.

Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed over the last few decades in cyclones, whose frequency and intensity have increased.

In November 2007, Cyclone Sidr killed more than 3,000 people.

In May of this year, Fani became the most powerful storm that hit the country in five years, but just over a dozen people died.

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