Super cyclone brings heavy rain, tidal waves to eastern India

UNTV News   •   May 20, 2020   •   168

Heavy rains and winds lashed two eastern Indian states of Odisha and West Bengal hours before a powerful cyclone made landfall on Wednesday (May 20), with rescue teams evacuating millions of villagers to higher ground in an operation complicated by the coronavirus pandemic.

The weather department in India said Amphan had slowed and was likely to cross the coast near West Bengal state or Bangladesh around 2:30 p.m. (0900 GMT).

An Indian federal home ministry official said West Bengal and neighbouring Odisha state were struggling to house thousands of evacuees as existing shelters were being used as coronavirus quarantine centers.

Extra shelters were being prepared in wholesale markets and government buildings with allowances made for social distancing, while masks and scarves were being distributed among the villagers. (Reuters)

(Production: Peter Brownlie, Tanya Lezaic)

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Locusts swarm across parts of India, attacking agricultural lands

UNTV News   •   May 26, 2020

Huge swarms of locusts took over the skies of Northern and Central India on Monday (May 25) and Sunday (May 24), affecting agricultural lands.

The pests were mostly seen across large states of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Rajasthan.

On Sunday, actions were taken in the city of Mandsaur, in central India, to contain the swarm by spraying pesticides.

One of the deadliest pests for farms produce, locusts are known to destroy crops and vegetables, and whatever they find in their way, in search of food.

Animals also get affected by eating the same leaves as the locusts and can suffer from diarrhoea.

Locust swarms are not new in East Africa, the Middle East and South Asia. But climate scientists say erratic weather linked to climate change has created ideal conditions for the insects to surge in numbers not seen in a quarter of a century.

If allowed to breed unchecked in favourable conditions, locusts can form huge swarms that can strip trees and crops over vast areas. (Reuters)

(Production: ANI, Hanna Rantala, Gabriela Boccaccio)

Cyclone Amphan tears into India; destroys homes, whips up storm surge

UNTV News   •   May 21, 2020

A powerful cyclone tore into eastern India and Bangladesh on Wednesday (May 20), destroying mud houses and embankments and whipping up a storm surge along the coast, officials said, after millions of people were moved out of its path.

At least one 70-year-old man was killed by a falling tree in Bangladesh’s coastal Bhola district, a police official said. The low-lying country has evacuated 2.4 million people to shelters.

Another 650,000 people have been moved to safety in the eastern Indian states of Odisha and West Bengal, authorities said, an operation carried out amid surging coronavirus infections.

It was too early to estimate a toll on life or damage to property.

Cyclone Amphan began moving inland with winds gusting up to 185 kph, Mrutyunjay Mohapatra, director general of the India Meteorological Department, told reporters.

Mohapatra said that the storm surge could rise to around five metres in the Sundarbans delta, home to around four million people and thick mangrove forests that are a critical tiger habitat.

The storm will also sweep past Kolkata, a sprawling city of 4.5 million people, where strong winds uprooted trees and electricity poles, littering several streets, television showed.

A home ministry official said authorities in West Bengal and neighbouring Odisha had struggled to house thousands of evacuees as shelters were being used as coronavirus quarantine centres.

Extra shelters were being prepared in markets and government buildings with allowances made for social distancing, while masks were being distributed to villagers.

Police in West Bengal said some people were unwilling to go to the shelters because they were afraid of being infected by the coronavirus and many were refusing to leave their livestock. (Reuters)

(Production: Peter Brownlie, Mussab Al-Khairalla)

Indian president arrives in Manila for state visit

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 18, 2019

Indian President Ram Nath Kovind (R) arrives at Manila International Airport in Manila, Philippines, 17 October 2019. The Indian head of state is in Manila on an official visit to mark the 70th anniversary of the establishment of India-Philippines bilateral relations. EPA-EFE/STR

Indian President Ram Nath Kovind arrived in the Philippines on Thursday evening for a state visit from October 17 to 21.

Kovind will visit Rizal park on Friday (October 18) for a wreath-laying ceremony and will formally meet President Rodrigo Duterte later in the afternoon for a welcome ceremony at Malacañan Palace.

The two leaders are expected to hold an expanded bilateral meeting and will witness the exchange of agreements between the two governments.

On Saturday (October 19), the Indian Chief Executive will meet with liver transplant patients as well as the beneficiaries of the Mahaveer Philippines Foundation, an organization that helps amputees.

Kovind will also attend the Philippine-India Business Conclave and the 4th Association of Southeast Asian Countries (ASEAN) Business Summit

On the last day of his visit, the Indian President will meet with the Indian Community in Taguig City.—AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

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