"Cyclone Amphan is also a major threat to the millions of vulnerable Bangladeshis living in low-lying flood-prone coastal areas", Dipankar Datta, country director of Oxfam in Bangladesh said in a statement.
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) said that the Super cyclone Amphan was about 120 km east-southeast of Paradip in Odisha at 8.30 a.m. People have gathered at the shelters with their kids and requirements. They came last evening.
"There is panic. The women are anxious [.] A few months ago Cyclone Bulbul smashed our village, destroying at least 100 homes".
Early Wednesday the vast weather system - visible from space - was 125 kilometres offshore with gusts up to 200 kilometres per hour (125 mph), the equivalent of a category three hurricane, the Indian Meteorological Department said.
Though the storm lay about 120 km east-southeast of Paradip in Odisha, 125 km south-southeast of Digha (West Bengal) and almost 220 km south of Kolkata, its effects are already in evidence in the two states.
"We are dealing with a multi-hazard scenario as the devastating winds are expected to cause extensive damage to structures, houses and trees".
Storm surges can force a wall of water to cascade several kilometres inland, and are often responsible for massive loss of life during the most severe cyclones.
Light rain lashed West Bengal's coastline and northwards till Kolkata as well. At the coast, it was raining and the sea rough.
A cyclone warning has been set for the West Bengal and north Odisha coasts in eastern India as of Tuesday morning and the states are now on a "high alert".
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"This is a very hard dual disaster situation".
The eastern edge of the storm headed for Bangladesh and neighbouring India is expected to batter Bhasan Char island, where 306 Rohingya, members of a persecuted minority from Myanmar, were sent this month after being rescued from boats. In 1970 Cyclone Bhola killed half a million. However, the numbers of fatalities have decreased over the years even as storms become stronger due to better and more efficient evacuation policies.
India has begun evacuating millions of people along its eastern coast ahead of a super cyclonic storm in the Bay of Bengal.
The country has been working to bring 2.2 million people to safety, while West Bengal was relocating 300,000 others.
But the Catholic Relief Services (CRS) aid group said coastal dwellers faced "an impossible choice" of braving the cyclone by staying put, or risking being infected with coronavirus in a shelter. "Because the cyclonic storm will remain for a significant time, the damage is also expected to be significant", the official said.
"We will try to maintain social distancing as much as possible", she said.
Although not predicted to be on the direct path of the storm, south-eastern Bangladesh is home to nearly a million Rohingya refugees from Myanmar, most living in vast camps of shacks. These six districts have reported 461 novel coronavirus cases.
The UN said emergency items such as food, tarpaulins and water purification tablets had been stockpiled, while authorities said the refugees would be moved to sturdier buildings like schools.