India – Cyclone ‘Yaas’ Causes Flooding in Odisha and West Bengal, 1.5 Million Evacuate

Almost 1.5 million people evacuated their homes in India ahead of Cyclone Yaas making landfall in the state of Odisha on 26 May 2021.

Evacuations in Odisha, India, May 2021. Photo: Kendrapada Police, Odisha

India Meteorological Department (IMD) said Very Severe Cyclonic Storm Yaas crossed the North Odisha coast about 20km south of Balasore during the morning of 26 May 2021, with an estimated wind speed of 130 to 140 km/h and gusts of 155 km/h. Moving north-westwards Yaas later weakened to a Severe Cyclonic Storm.

IMD warned of storm surge of 2-3 meters in coastal areas of Balasore, Bhadrak and Medinipur districts in Odisha. Rainfall warnings were issued in Odisha and West Bengal. IMD said heavy rain was likely from 28 May in parts of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.


According to India’s National Emergency Response Centre (NERC), as of 26 May the storm had affected the districts of Balasore, Bhadrak, Cuttack, Khordha, Kendrapara, Jajpur and Mayurbhanj in Odisha. Flooding, wind damage and fallen trees blocked roads, leaving villages isolated. Many were left without power.

The state’s Chief Minister, Naveen Patnaik, said 128 villages were marooned and announced relief aid for affected families. He said that major roads and 80% of the electricity supply to be restored in next 24 hours. Over 450 response teams have been deployed from India’s Works and Rural Development Department to help clear roads of fallen trees and flood debris.

NERC reported 1 fatality in Keonjhar district and another in Mayurbhanj district.  NERC also reported hundreds of homes in affected districts have been damaged or destroyed. Many of the homes were empty after pre-emptive evacuations had moved 593,656 people to safer areas in 6,870 relief camps.

West Bengal

Pre-emptive evacuations were also carried out in West Bengal, where 809,830 people moved from their homes in coastal districts, NERC said. Kolkata’s International Airport was closed on 26 May. A tornado that preceded the storm killed two people in Hooghly district, north of Kolkata.

India’s National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) carried out rescues in flooded coastal districts of Purba Medinipur and 24 Parganas South. Full damage assessments for West Bengal are yet to be completed. However, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee told reporters that about 20,000 mud houses and temporary shelters had been damaged.

A flood-damaged home after Storm Yaas, West Bengal, India, May 2021. Photo: NDRF


In the state of Jharkhand, 10,773 people moved to 401 relief camps in safer areas, NERC reported.

IMD said Yaas has weakened into a deep depression and, as of late 26 May, lay centred over south Jharkhand and the adjoining north interior of Odisha. The storm is likely to move north-westwards and weaken gradually into a depression during by 27 May.

Track of Cyclone Yaas in India, 26 to 27 May 2021. Image: IMD

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