Cyclone Aila Misses Kolkata India: Hits Orissa and West Bengal
Kolkata was saved the fury of cyclone Aila, a 100 km/hr storm that has claimed 12 lives, though the tail did hit the city and force school closures and some evacuations.
Aila is still 59 kms from Kolkata and it might change course and head toward Howrah and Hoogly. The central government has deployed the National Disaster Relief Force in West Bengal.
Kolkata is one of the most densely populated cities in the country. All the schools in the city were asked to shut down before noon as a precaution. About 1 lakh (1,00,000 individuals) have been impacted by the cyclone in West Bengal alone and 80,0000 evacuated to safer ground.
Army and BSF has already started rescue operations in coastal West Bengal as this earth snapshot shows people along the coastline from Orissa in India to Bangladesh moving inland having been forewarned to take precautionary measures.
The Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose international airport has been closed and all the flights have been diverted from 2PM IST, May 25th 2009. All the national and international flights have been diverted to airports in the Eastern India as well as Delhi.
A total of seven domestic flights have either been sent back to their place of origin or have been diverted to other airports of Aizawl, New Delhi and Mumbai, the official said. International flights like those from Bangkok and Dhaka were also diverted.
Twelve people were killed on Monday and the Indian Army was asked to start rescue operations in the coastal South 24 Parganas district where extensive damage was feared as cyclone Aila crossed the coast into West Bengal.
Had Aila actually ripped through Calcutta in its full fury, the damage to life and property would have been far worse. The Great Calcutta Cyclone of 1864 — the last such recorded phenomenon — had killed 60,000 people.