Tropical cyclone bears down on India's West Bengal and Bangladesh

Almost 14 million people will be exposed to damaging winds and potential flash floods generated by Bulbul.

    Residents along the Bay of Bengal coast prepare as this powerful storm approaches.  [AFP]
    Residents along the Bay of Bengal coast prepare as this powerful storm approaches. [AFP]

    Tropical Cyclone Bulbul has begun pounding the coast of Odisha in eastern India, as it continues to head towards the northern Bay of Bengal.

    Bulbul, a reformed version of tropical storm Matmo, is maintaining its strength and is expected to be a severe storm (equivalent to a Category 1 hurricane) when it makes landfall in India's West Bengal late on Saturday.

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    The Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System (GDACS) warned that the tropical cyclone "can have a high humanitarian impact based on the maximum sustained winds, exposed population and vulnerability".

    Almost 14 million people will be exposed to the damaging winds generated by Bulbul.

    The storm will produce heavy rain, with between 100 and 350 millimetres (0.3 and 1.1 feet) over the next couple of days, which could lead to dangerous flash flooding.

    A life-threatening storm surge of up to two metres (6.56 feet) above normal tide levels is expected along the coast of West Bengal as the centre of Bulbul moves onshore.

    Hundreds of fishing boats have been brought in since Friday and remain anchored at jetties along the Bay of Bengal coast, and fishermen have been advised to stay onshore until November 12.

    The India Meteorological Department (IMD) warned of major damage to thatched homes, power lines, trees and coastal crops.

    The cyclone is expected to move northeast across coastal areas of West Bengal and then rapidly weaken as it continues to move inland across Bangladesh throughout Sunday.

    SOURCE: News agencies