Amphan: Millions hunker down in India and Bangladesh as cyclone arrives
Ferocious wind and rain is lashing parts of eastern India and Bangladesh as Cyclone Amphan makes landfall.
Millions of people were evacuated in anticipation of the storm, which originated within the Bay of Bengal.
The storm, the primary super cyclone within the area since 1999, is forecast to cause deadly storm surges, severe flooding and mudslides.
The coronavirus and social-distancing measures have made mass evacuations harder for authorities.
India's weather department said in a day update that Amphan was making landfall during a process that might take several hours.
It has begun hitting the Sundarbans, a mangrove area round the India-Bangladesh border, and can later move north and north-eastwards near the main city of Kolkata in India's West Bengal state, meteorological officials said.
Amphan is then expected to maneuver further into Bangladesh on Thursday, and later Bhutan.
People are taking shelter in Kolkata because the cyclone approaches
The storm was the primary super cyclone within the Bay of Bengal since one in 1999 that killed thousands of individuals but its winds have since weakened, consistent with BBC Weather. Indian officials said the present wind speed within the Sundarbans was 160-170 km/h, with gusts of up to 190km/h - adequate to a Category Three hurricane.
A Bangladesh Red Crescent volunteer helping villagers to evacuate became the primary fatality after the boat he was in capsized in strong winds, the organisation said.
"At least 50 people took shelter in my concrete-built house," Bangladeshi prawn farmer Abdur Rahim, who lives on on the sting of the Sundarbans, told the AFP press agency .
"There is panic. the ladies are worried... a couple of months ago Cyclone Bulbul smashed our village, destroying a minimum of 100 homes. We hope Allah will save us this point ."
Why Bay of Bengal may be a hotbed of tropical cyclones
When extreme weather and Covid-19 collide
India and Bangladesh have asked for schools and other buildings to be became temporary shelters - but they have more room than usual so as to deal with people while maintaining social distancing.
Police in West Bengal , which along side the state of Orissa (also referred to as Odisha) is predicted to be the worst-hit a part of India, told the BBC that folks were unwilling to travel to the shelters because they were scared of contracting Covid-19.
Image copyrightAMBARISH NAG BISWAS
Social distancing being enforced during a cyclone shelter in India
Officials in Bangladesh fear it'll be the foremost powerful storm since Cyclone Sidr killed about 3,500 people in 2007. Most died as a results of sea water surging in.
India's weather department is predicting storm surges as high as 10-16 feet (3-5 metres). The rising of sea levels during this way can send deadly walls of water barrelling far inland, devastating communities.
Media captionMatt Taylor presents the newest Amphan update
The cyclone comes as tens of thousands of migrant workers still flee cities for his or her villages during India's lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus. West Bengal and Orissa are among the Indian states seeing large numbers return.
Orissa has cancelled trains that were thanks to arrive with thousands of migrants between 18 and 20 May. Some district officials have barred entry and asked the government to accommodate the migrants - many of whom are walking home - elsewhere until the storm passes.
Both states have halted traffic also .
How cyclones get their names
What is a cyclone?
The lost fishermen of India's Cyclone Ockhi
Bangladesh's disaster management minister earlier told the BBC that authorities were evacuating a minimum of two million people.
Extra shelters are prepared to permit for social distancing, while masks also are being distributed.
However, there are fears for many thousands of Rohingya refugees who fled Myanmar and sleep in crowded camps in Bangladesh. the most camps aren't within the direct path of the storm but Bangladeshi officials said that they had moved many Rohingya living on an island within the Bay of Bengal into shelters.
The UN and human rights groups also are gravely worried for many Rohingya refugees who they believe might be on boats within the Bay of Bengal, and possibly within the storm's path, after trying to escape to Malaysia and Thailand but being blocked by authorities in those countries from landing.
Meanwhile, state officials in India are struggling to seek out shelters for evacuees. In Orissa, as an example , 250 of the quite 800 existing shelters are getting used as coronavirus quarantine centres.
The governments of West Bengal and Orissa have evacuated nearly half 1,000,000 people.