Cyclone Amphan turned in to a "super cyclonic storm" this morning, the weather office said, hours after it intensified in to an "extremely severe cyclonic storm".
The storm is expected to make landfall on Wednesday afternoon (May 20) and hit West Bengal and Odisha states.
"The Extremely Severe Cyclonic Storm 'AMPHAN' (pronounced as UM-PUN) intensified into Super Cyclonic Storm at 1130 IST of today, the 18th May, 2020 (sic)," the India Meteorological Department (IMD) tweeted.
It is going to be the strongest cyclone to hit the Bengal-Odisha coast since Phailin in 2013. Amphan could trigger moderate to heavy rain across south Bengal and Kolkata that will intensify as the cyclone hits land on Wednesday afternoon (May 20).
India's meteorological department has issued a "yellow alert" for the region, advising fishermen not to "venture into the south Bay of Bengal during the next 24 hours, and north Bay of Bengal from 18-20 May".
The head of India's National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF), SN Pradhan, said they were watching the situation closely and were in touch with state governments.
"A total of 37 teams have been deployed by NDRF in West Bengal and Odisha, out of which 20 teams are actively deployed and 17 are on standby in the two states. It is a dual challenge as cyclone is striking in time of COVID-19 and (hence) we are facing a double challenge so to say," he said.
West Bengal Home Secretary Alapan Bandopdhyay said the entire state machinery was prepared to deal with the situation. Disaster management teams are being sent to cyclone shelters in coastal areas, and other places likely to be affected. The home secretary said National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams were also available for rescue and relief operations.
In view of the cyclone alert, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will also hold a high-level meeting with the Ministry of Home Affairs and National Disaster Management Authority at 4 pm today (May 18)