Kolkata/Bhubaneshwar/Dhamra/Digha, May 26: The cyclone Yaas began landfall near Dhamra port in Odisha at 9.15 am on Wednesday, even as strong winds and heavy tides saw seawater ingress in many coastal towns and villages in Odisha and West Bengal ahead of the landfall.
The landfall process has begun and will take between three to four hours. The maximum impact will be in Balasore and Bhadrak district, Odisha's Special Relief Commissioner (SRC) P.K. Jena told reporters. He said the location of the landfall is north of Dhamra and south of Bahanaga close to Bahanaga block on the coast.
Jena said about 5.80 lakh people in vulnerable areas of Odisha have been shifted to safe shelters. The West Bengal government had on Tuesday also reported that nine lakh people had been evacuated to storm shelters.
Though the IMD had earlier on Tuesday forecast that the wind speed during landfall would be around 155 to 165 kmph to gusting 185 kmph, the Doppler RADAR data now indicates the wind speed to be 130-140 kmph gusting to 155 kmph.
Jena said the landfall of Cyclone Yaas had been delayed for some hours with the systems velocity decreasing to 12 kmph from 15 to 16 kmph. He said the cyclone has not intensified further after 2 am.
Since there has been a fall in intensification, we expect the wind speed to be around 130-140 kmph at the time of landfall instead of 165 kmph gusting to 185 kmph, he said.
Five sub-divisions and blocks of West Bengal and four of Odisha are expected to be inundated with the most inundation in Bhadrak district of up to nine kms inland. The reason behind such a high storm surge is also partially due to full-moon activity, according to Met department officials.
Sub-districts and blocks expected to be hit by seawater ingress Baleshwar, Bhadrak, Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara, Kanthi, Diamond harbour, Basirhat, Tamluk, Uluberia. Scenes of sea water gushing through the streets of Digha were witnessed and of earthmovers and jeeps over-turning as tidal water came in from the sea.
The Met department in Kolkata said the maximum wind speed in the city reached 62 kmph. The maximum wind speed in the coastal resort town of Digha in East Midnapore reached around 90 km per hour.
Several low-lying areas in South 24 Parganas and East Midnapore were inundated owing to high tidal waves.
Several embankments, including 51 in East Midnapore, have been breached as the water level in the rivers in the coastal areas rose, officials and eye-witnesses said.
The Met department also warned of tidal waves of two to four metres in height above astronomical tide which would inundate low-lying coastal areas of East Midnapore, and of two metres above astronomical tide in low-lying areas of South 24 Parganas.
Most parts of West Bengal and Odisha also received heavy overnight rains.
The Met department had earlier warned of tidal waves of two to four metres height above astronomical tide to inundate low lying coastal areas of East Midnapore and of two metres above astronomical tide in low lying areas of South 24 Parganas around the time of landfall of 'Yaas'.
About 404 rescue teams, including 52 from the NDRF, 60 from the Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force (ODRAF), 205 Fire service teams and 86 groups of tree-cutters have been deployed in the vulnerable districts of Odisha.
West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh too have deployed large numbers of disaster relief personnel, police and fire brigade for rescue operations.
The Eastern Command of the Indian Army, on requisition, is also working in coordination with the West Bengal government and has deployed a total of 17 cyclone relief columns, comprising specialised army personnel with associated equipment and inflatable boats.
Meanwhile, at least two persons were electrocuted to death and around 80 houses partly damaged after a storm, which West Bengal Chief Minister Banerjee described as a "tornado", hit Hooghly and North 24 Parganas districts on Tuesday.