26 Sep 2021, 19:02

Evacuations as Cyclone Gulab bears down on eastern India

    KOLKATA, Sept 26, 2021 (BSS/AFP) - Tens of thousands of people have been 
evacuated in three Indian states ahead of a cyclone expected to smash into 
the east coast later Sunday, authorities said.

   Cyclones are a regular menace in the northern Indian Ocean but many 
scientists say they are becoming more frequent and severe as climate change 
warms sea temperatures.

   Cyclone Gulab is expected to make landfall between the coastal states of 
Odisha and Andhra Pradesh, bearing gusts of up to 95 kilometres (58 miles) 
per hour, the state-run India Meteorological Department said.

   The storm system from the Bay of Bengal would bring "strong winds and very 
heavy (and) extremely heavy rainfall", the weather bureau added in an 
advisory Sunday.

   Odisha and Andhra Pradesh officials ordered tens of thousands of people 
living along the coast to move to shelters, as hundreds of emergency workers 
were sent to the region.

   Authorities in West Bengal -- to the north of Odisha -- said Sunday that, 
while Gulab appeared unlikely to hit the state directly, they were still 
taking precautions.

   "We have so far evacuated more than 20,000 people to schools (and) 
government offices, which have been turned to cyclone shelters," Bankim 
Hazra, a state minister responsible for the low-lying areas, told AFP.

   Odisha Special Relief Commissioner P.K. Jena said seven districts in the 
state were on high alert and evacuation efforts were under way.

   Ganjam, a coastal district, was expected to be badly hit by the cyclone, 
Jena added in a statement.

   In Andhra Pradesh, some 85,000 families were expected to be moved from 
low-lying areas to temporary relief shelters.

   In May, more than a million people were evacuated from their homes along 
India's east coast before it was battered by Cyclone Yaas with winds gusting 
up to 155 kilometres (96 miles) an hour -- equivalent to a category two 

   At least 20 people were killed and tens of thousands were displaced in the 
storm, which caused widespread damage worth more than $2 billion in Odisha 
and West Bengal states. 

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