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Tropical Cyclone Amphan - May 2020

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A deep depression over southeast Bay of Bengal has intensified into a cyclonic storm "Amphan" on Saturday, 16 May. The cyclone is currently located in the central Bay of Bengal and will track north, north-eastward towards India and Bangladesh. The system is very likely to intensify further into a major tropical cyclone in the next 24 hours. According to the latest forecasts, the cyclone will make a landfall on 20 May somewhere in NE India, West Bengal – Bangladesh coast. It is expected that it will bring strong winds, very rough sea conditions, storm surge and heavy rain across Odisha and west Bengal coasts. The Indian Meteorological Department has issued an orange alert for this region. A red alert has been issued for Gangetic West Bengal, which urges residents to take action to protect themselves from extremely heavy rainfall and severe winds. Bangladesh Meteorological Department has issued a Special Weather Bulletin and a warning alert as well. The Government of Odisha has identified 567 cyclone shelters, as well as 7,000 community buildings to relocate around 1.1 million people across 649 villages along the seacoast. The community based COVID-19 quarantine centres in coastal areas are being shifted to safe locations. The State and the National Disaster Management forces are in readiness. The Communities Working Group in Cox’s Bazar works on community level awareness in all 34 camps. (ECHO,17 May 2020)

As of 22 May, a satellite detected inundated areas around Kolkata, West Bengal, India. An International Water Management Institute map shows the inundation extent covering the city of Kolkata after the Super cyclone landfall on 20 May at 5:00 PM. The ESA Sentinel-1 image acquired on 22 May 00:04 which is a cloud-­penetrating satellite showing partial inundation (Orange) in the urban areas to large-extent and complete inundation in agricultural areas (pink) and permanent water (blue) which are severely damaged by Cyclone impacting the infrastructure and crop damages. (IWMI, 22 May 2020)

Thailand: A warning is in effect for high waves, flash floods and landslides in 14 southern provinces from 18-20 May as a result of Tropical Cyclone Amphan. Tropical storms have already damaged 1,305 homes in 11 upper provinces in northern, northeastern, central and eastern regions of the country. (ECHO,19 May 2020)

As of 19 May, tropical Cyclone AMPHAN has intensified into a super cyclonic storm as it continues north over the central Bay of Bengal, toward India's Odisha and West Bengal States and Bangladesh's Barisal Division. AMPHAN is expected to continue towards the Odisha coast, slightly weakening before making landfall over southern West Bengal on the morning of 20 May with maximum sustained winds of 190-210 km/h. The Needs Assessment Working Group (NAWG) in Bangladesh estimates that up to 14.2 million people in coastal districts are likely to be affected, with nearly 1.4 million displaced and up to 600,000 houses damaged. Evacuation from high-risk areas is to begin today and is already underway in high-risk areas in India. (ECHO, 19 May 2020)

Tropical Cyclone AMPHAN continues towards India's Odisha and West Benagal States and southern Bangladesh's Barisal Division. On 20 May at 0.00 UTC its centre was 195 km south-east of Bhubaneshwar City (Odisha), and 370 km south-southwest of Kolkata (West Bengal), with maximum sustained winds of 175 km/h. According to media reports, national authorities in India are evacuating 1.1 to 1.2 million people from Odisha and from West Bengal, 2 million in Bangladesh. AMPHAN should make landfall over southern West Bangal (approximately 50 km south of Haldia and 100 km south of Kolkata) on 20 May, with maximum sustained winds up to 160 km/h before weakening as it moves over eastern West Bengal and western and central Bangladesh on 20-21 May. A red alert for heavy rain and thunderstorms is in effect over West Bengal (India) and a storm surge and wind warnings over coastal districts of Bangladesh over the next 24 hours. (ECHO, 20 May 2020)

As of 21 of May, cyclone Amphan has made a landfall and it is crossing the West Bengal- Bangladesh Coast east of Sagar Island. According to the latest special weather bulletin of the Met Department of Bangladesh issued around 7.30 p.m. ,the cyclone currently lies over the coastal West Bengal and Sundarban on the Bangladeshi coast after making a landfall around 4 p.m. in West Bengal. It is likely to move in a north-northeasterly direction further and complete crossing the coast within the next 3-4 hours. Maximum wind speed within 74 kilometres of the Cyclone centre is about 160 kilometre per hour (kmph) rising to 180 kmph in gusts/ squalls. (Govt. of India, 21 May 2020)

TC AMPHAN made landfall between Digha (West Bengal) and Hatiya Islands (Bangladesh) on Wednesday 20 May as category 3 storm (Saffir-Simpson scale) bringing strong winds up to 185 km/h and heavy rain, damaging houses, crops and cutting power supplies to cities and towns already struggling to contain the COVID-19 outbreak. At least 14 people have been reported killed in India and 7 in Bangladesh. More than three million people have been evacuated to emergency shelters. After landfall TC AMPHAN was downgraded to a tropical depression, but is expected to bring heavy to moderate rain over the next 24 hours in the northeast Indian states, West Bengal and Sikkim, as well as in most of Bangladesh, including in the Rohingya refugees camps. According to UNICEF's reporting, the storm has put many people at risk, not only as a direct effect of floods and wind damage, but also given the potential spread of COVID-19 in crowded evacuation shelters. (ECHO, 21 May 2020)

At least 77 deaths in India and 25 in Bangladesh have been reported so far. Over three million people in both countries continue to remain in community shelters. Significant damage has been reported in thatched houses, standing crops, horticulture, fisheries, power and telecommunication facilities in cyclone-affected areas. Most areas remained without electricity and communication network and blocked roads limiting a rapid response. In Cox's Bazar, flooding and small landslides have caused damage to 300 shelters, blocked drains and damaged stairs, latrines and bridges. (ECHO, 22 May 2020)

In India, Odisha and West Bengal states were affected, with nearly 60 million people affected and at least 80 people killed in West Bengal alone. More than 700,000 people were evacuated across India and at least 80,000 homes have been damaged or destroyed. In Bangladesh, 10 million people were affected by Cyclone Amphan and at least 25 people were killed. An estimated 2.4 million people were evacuated ahead of the storm. According to preliminary reports, 330,000 houses were damaged, including 55,600 destroyed in the nine most affected districts. The cyclone led to the internal displacement of at least 100,000 people who are currently staying on embankments and with friends or relatives. Satkhira, Khulna, Barguna, and Patuakhali districts were most severely affected, with up to 1.2 million people highly affected in those four districts alone. (OCHA, 26 May 2020)

In Bangladesh, tropical cyclone Amphan has severely affected the livelihoods of at least 1 million people, destroyed houses and infrastructure, including irrigation facilities. According to initial Government estimates, the overall damage to housing, infrastructure, fisheries, livestock and crops was set at BDT 11 billion (USD 130 million). The most affected areas are located in the southwestern parts of the country, including the districts of Khulna, Jessore, Satkhira, Bagerha and Pirojpur, Barguna, Patuakhali, Bhota and Noakhali (FAO, 10 Jun 2020)

Although the path of the cyclone did not hit Cox’s Bazar, the effects of the cyclone nevertheless was felt in the refugee settlements in Cox’s Bazar, which received heavy rain and strong winds. The Bangladesh Cyclone Preparedness Programme (CPP) raised three flags as an alert sign for refugees in the Cox’s Bazar refugee settlements. The three flag was the highest alert level that refugees have seen for a cyclone since many of them first arrived in Bangladesh in 2017. Over 1,252 shelters were partially damaged and 159 shelters completely destroyed, temporarily displacing 144 households. In total, close to 6,000 refugees were affected by the cyclone. (UNHCR, 16 Jun 2020)

According to the rapid assessment report conducted in June 2020 by Indian Red Cross Society (IRCS), in West Bengal, India, 2.9 million houses were reported damaged. There was a need for supply of shelter kits, utensils, tarpaulins, lighting solutions for those who had fully or partially lost their houses. Heath facilities damaged in West Bengal by the cyclone included 563 primary health centres, 169 Block primary health centres and 5,142 sub-centres at the community level. The existing health systems were already overwhelmed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the damages due to the cyclone made this worse. The waterlogged areas with debris and other waste materials would accelerate the risk of water and vector-borne diseases. (IFRC, 23 Jul 2020)