Cyclone Yaas bears down as India braces for 2nd major storm in 10 days

More than 1.1 million people have evacuated low-lying areas ahead of a cyclone expected to hit part of India's eastern coast around midday Wednesday.

Powerful storm already being blamed for 2 deaths ahead of making landfall

A satellite image provided by NASA shows Cyclone Yaas approaching India's eastern coast, on Tuesday. (NASA Worldview, Earth Observing System Data and Information System via The Associated Press)

More than 1.1 million people have evacuated low-lying areas ahead of a cyclone expected to hit part of India's eastern coast around midday Wednesday.

Cyclone Yaas has already caused two deaths and damage to homes as severe weather and rains affect Odisha and West Bengal states. It is due to make landfall around noon local time.

The "very severe cyclonic storm" has sustained winds of up to 140 km/h that are gusting up to 155 km/h, the India Meteorological Department said on Wednesday.

A tornado snapped electricity lines that electrocuted two people and damaged 40 houses in West Bengal's Hooghly district on Tuesday, the top state elected official Mamata Banerjee said.

Kolkata airport is shut and train services were cancelled before the storm as a precaution, the railroad department said.

A member of India's National Disaster Response Force uses a megaphone to appeal to residents to move to safer place ahead of Cyclone Yaas at Digha in Purba Medinipur district in the eastern state of West Bengal on Tuesday. (Rupak De Chowdhuri/Reuters)

The cyclone has dumped more than 17 centimetres of rain in Chandabali and Paradip regions of Odisha state since Tuesday, the meteorological department said. Waves as high as four metres are expected to flood some low-lying areas.

At least 20 districts in West Bengal state were expected to feel the brunt of the storm. Fishing trawlers and boats were told to take shelter.

2nd storm in 10 days

Yaas will be the second storm to hit India in 10 days after Cyclone Tauktae killed at least 140 people across western states last week.

Nearly 70 victims were on a barge that ripped free of its anchors in the storm and sank off Mumbai's coast.

The massive storms come as India is battling a devastating coronavirus surge, complicating efforts to deal with both.

In neighbouring Bangladesh, authorities asked all fishing boats and trawlers over the north Bay of Bengal and the deep sea to move closer to the coast ahead of Yaas.

Ships told to leave ports

A weather bulletin from the country's Meteorological Department in Dhaka said that ships should leave maritime ports of Chattogram, Mongla, Cox's Bazar and Payra.

Scientists say cyclones in India are becoming more frequent and changing climate patterns have caused them to become more intense.

Last May, nearly 100 people died in Cyclone Amphan, the most powerful storm to hit eastern India in more than a decade.

It flattened villages, destroyed farms and left millions without power in eastern India and Bangladesh.

Cyclone Tauktae, which battered India's western coast earlier this month, killed at least 140 people. (Rafiq Maqbool/The Associated Press)