As Cyclone Yass nears, Kolkata airport suspends operations; lakhs evacuated in Bengal and Odisha

Cyclone Yass has brought normal life to a standstill in many parts of West Bengal, Odisha and neighbouring states. The 'very severe cyclonic storm' is slated to make landfall around noon today with wind speed of 130-140 kmph gusting 155 kmph. The IMD has also issued a red-coded warning alert to the Odisha and West Bengal coasts.

As per the bulletin issued by the India Meteorological Department at 7:30 am on Wednesday, the storm is very likely to move north-northwestwards and cross north Odisha coast to the north of Dhamra and south of Balasore during noon of today, the 26th May as a Very Severe Cyclonic Storm.

West Bengal and Odisha have aggressively evacuated over 12 lakh people to storm shelters by late Tuesday evening. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said that her administration has evacuated over nine lakh people from coastal districts to safe shelters, while the Odisha government said it has moved over 3 lakh people from vulnerable coastal areas to safety.

The Eastern Command of the Indian Army, on requisition, is working in coordination with the West Bengal government and 17 cyclone relief columns have been deployed. In neighbouring Odisha, 52 teams of NDRF, 60 teams of ODRAF, 206 Fire Service teams and 86 wood cutting teams of forest department have already been deployed in 10 coastal and adjoining districts.

Keeping the Cyclone in mind, five airports in India have briefly halted operations. According to updates tweeted by the Airports Authority of India, this includes Kolkata, Bhubaneshwar, Jharsuguda, Durgapur and Rourkela airports.

"As the cyclone land fall is expected by tomorrow noon near Balasore in Odisha, associated weather in the region is likely to develop with high winds and rain. Kolkata Airport will be closed for scheduled operations of commercial flights from 08:30 am to 07:45 pm on May 26," the AAI tweeted.

Bhubaneswar's Biju Patnaik International airport will be closed from 11:00 pm on May 25 until 05:00 am on May 27th. Jharsuguda's Veer Surendra Sai Airport will remain shut from 00:01 am on May 26th, until 07:45 am on May 27. Durgapur and Rourkela Airports will also be closed on 26th May.

The South Eastern Railways too has cancelled several trains. As per reports quoting the Railways Public Relations Officer, 38 long-distance Southbound and Kolkata-bound passenger trains have been cancelled between May 24 and May 29.

(With inputs from agencies)

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