Kolkata (West Bengal) [India], May 26 (ANI): Ahead of the predicted landfall of the "very severe cyclonic storm" Yaas on the north Odisha-West Bengal coast on Wednesday aftenoon, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee spent the night in state secretariat, Nabanna reviewing preparations and monitoring the situation on ground.
The state government has set up a round-the-clock control room in the secretariat annexe to monitor the situation.
According to the India Meteorological Department (IMD) forecast, "the landfall process of the very severe cyclonic storm 'Yaas' would commence within a couple of hours to cross North Odisha coast to the north Dhamra and south of Balasore."
"The Very Severe Cyclonic Storm 'Yaas' (pronounced as 'Yass') over northwest Bay of Bengal moved north-northwestwards with a speed of about 15 Kilometre per hour (kmph) during past 6 hours and lay centered at 5:30 am on May 26 over northwest Bay of Bengal near latitude 20.8 degrees north and longitude 87.3 degrees east, about 40 Kilometre (Km) east of Dhamra, 90 km south-southeast of Balasore (Odisha) and 90 km south-southwest of Digha (West Bengal)," IMD said.
With the cyclone fast approaching the coast, many parts of West Bengal experienced a weather change with rain lashing over Kolkata and Barrackpore in North 24 Parganas. It is very likely to move north-northwestwards and cross north Odisha coast to the north of Dhamra and south of Balasore during noon today, the Met department said.
As a precaution, Kolkata airport has closed for operations from 8.30 am to 7.45 pm and no flights will be operating to or from Kolkata, officials said.
Railways also announced the cancellation of 38 long-distance South-bound and Kolkata-bound passenger trains in view of the impending cyclone.
"38 long-distance South-bound and Kolkata-bound passenger trains will remain cancelled from May 24 to May 29. Railways will refund the ticket charges to the passengers," informed Northeast Frontier Railway.
Meanwhile, over 11.5 lakh people were on Tuesday evacuated from vulnerable areas in West Bengal to prevent deaths and injuries ahead of the impending landfall of the cyclone Yaas.
Two persons had been electrocuted and at least 80 houses damaged in Hooghly and North 24 Parganas districts due to strong winds and heavy rainfall on Tuesday.
Briefing media persons at state secretariat 'Nabanna' on Tuesday, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee had informed that 74,000 employees of the state government have been engaged in the relief work. Evacuated people have been moved to over 8,000 flood shelters and schools and colleges.
The Defence Ministry has deployed Army columns with high-end equipment in several districts for post-cyclone relief work.
"Seventeen integrated Cyclone Relief Columns of Army, comprising specialised personnel with associated equipment and inflatable boats have been deployed. Columns have been prepositioned at Purulia, Jhargram, Birbhum, Bardhaman, West Midnapur, Howrah, Hooghly, Nadia, North 24 Parganas, and South 24 Parganas. Nine Cyclone Relief columns have also been kept on standby at Kolkata for redeployment as necessary in West Bengal at short notice," said the Defence Ministry. (ANI)