As cyclone Yaas pounds Bengal, Odisha, Jharkhand evacuates people from low-lying areas

By PTI
RANCHI: Jharkhand, which was put on high alert, continued evacuating low-lying areas on Wednesday amid the forecast that cyclone Yaas would be hitting the state by midnight after pounding neighbouring Odisha and West Bengal, officials said.

Operations are being executed on war-footing in the vulnerable areas in East and West Singhbhum, besides some other districts, in view of the very severe cyclonic storm Yaas, Disaster Management Secretary Amitabh Kaushal told PTI.

“We are witnessing high-speed wind and have evacuated about 6,000 persons from thatched houses and danger zones to shelter homes in safer locations,” East Singhbhum Deputy Commissioner Suraj Kumar said.

People are being shifted from low-lying areas near the two rivers in the district that are below the danger mark at present, he said.

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Many trees and electic poles were also uprooted in East Singhbhum due to high-speed winds, disrupting power supply, he added.

Director-General of Police Neeraj Sinha told PTI, “Satellite phones are being provided to interior Naxal- affected police stations for emergent communications, besides batteries in police wireless systems have been readied in case of communication disruptions due to the storm.”

“We are ready to deal with the situation and have formed rescue teams,” he added.

East Singhbhum, West Singhbhum and Saraikela-Kharsawan districts of the state are likely to witness “very high seas” situation with wind speed of 92-117 kmph, the weather office said.

The districts of Sahibganj, Godda, Pakur, Garhwa and Palamu may witness “very rough seas” condition with a wind speed of 52-61 kmph.

Rest of the state is likely to have “high to very high seas” phenomenon with a wind speed of 62-91 kmph, it said.

This is the first time in the history of Jharkhand that it is facing such a severe cyclonic storm.

Chief Minister Hemant Soren has asked officials to be on their toes to deal with any emergency situation.

ALSO READ | Cyclone Yaas: Indian Army Rescue and Relief columns on alert in West Bengal

COVID vaccination drives have been suspended till Thursday in some parts of the state in view of heavy rainfall and lightning, besides high-speed wind which is likely to uproot trees, officials said.

Door-to-door testing for COVID-19 has also been halted at many places, they said.

The Disaster Management Department has alerted authorities to take immediate action as cities such as Ranchi are likely to be flooded due to heavy rainfall.

Forest, Drinking Water and Sanitation, and Electricity officials have been asked to be on stand-by.

They have been asked to chalk out alternative plans to deal with electric and water supply, besides clearing of roads in case of uprooting of trees, and ensuring satellite phones and wireless communication are ready as networks are likely to be hit badly.

Cyclone Yaas pounded the beach towns in north Odisha and West Bengal as it hit the coast around 9 am with a wind speed of 130-140 kmph, inundating the low-lying areas amid a storm surge, officials said.

It is likely to move to Jharkhand with a lesser intensity by midnight, they said.

Railways moves 969 tonnes of oxygen in 24 hours amid cyclone threat

Beating inclement weather conditions, 12 Oxygen Express trains carried 969 tonnes of liquid medical oxygen to six states and a union territory in a span of 24 hours, the Railways said on Wednesday.

While three such trains reached Tamil Nadu, four arrived in Andhra Pradesh, and one each in Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Assam and Kerala.

The transporter said it procured the liquid medical oxygen for these states from Odisha, West Bengal and Jharkhand.

The country’s major liquid medical oxygen (LMO) generation plants are based in this region, and they are now providing the life-saving gas to the states facing a crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Railways had rushed the Oxygen Express trains to their destinations in anticipation of bad weather conditions due to Cyclone Yaas, which pounded the beach towns in north Odisha and neighbouring West Bengal, hitting the coast around 9 am on Wednesday with a wind speed of 130-140 kmph.

ALSO READ | Cyclone Yaas makes landfall near Bahanaga coast south of Balasore at 9 am

The location of its landfall was north of Dhamra in Odisha’s Bhadrak district and 50 km south of Balasore, close to Bahanaga block, on the coast, officials said.

Oxygen Expresses have delivered more than 17,945 tonnes of LMO since it started operations a month back.

Jharkhand has become the 15th state in the country to avail the service.

So far, 272 Oxygen Express trains with 1,080 tankers have completed their journey.

A total of 614 tonnes of LMO has been offloaded in Maharashtra, nearly 3,731 tonnes in Uttar Pradesh, 633 tonnes in Madhya Pradesh, 4,910 tonnes in Delhi, 1,911 tonnes in Haryana, 98 tonnes in Rajasthan, 1,653 tonnes in Karnataka, 320 tonnes in Uttarakhand, 1,158 tonnes in Tamil Nadu, 929 tonnes in Andhra Pradesh, 225 tonnes in Punjab, 246 tonnes in Kerala, 1,312 tonnes in Telangana, 38 tonnes in Jharkhand and 160 tonnes in Assam.

Criss-crossing the country, the Indian Railways is picking up oxygen from places like Hapa, Baroda, and Mundra in the west and Rourkela, Durgapur, Tatanagar, and Angul in the east.