Kuala Lumpur/Delhi/Dhaka, 25 May – Red Cross and Red Crescent teams are helping people stay safe in India and Bangladesh as a major cyclone threatens millions of people and devastating COVID-19 surges continue in both countries.

While India has been facing record COVID death rates, the eastern Indian states of West Bengal and Odisha are bracing for the very severe tropical Cyclone Yaas, the second major storm to hit the country in two weeks. 

Udaya Regmi, South Asia head of Delegation, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said: 

“This cyclone spells double trouble for millions of people in India as there is no respite from COVID-19. The country is being slammed by a second major cyclone in two weeks and hitting areas where COVID infections and deaths have been at record highs. 

“Indian Red Cross volunteers are working alongside authorities to support the safe evacuation of people who are in the direct path of the cyclone, preparing rafts in case of storm surges and flooding and relief supplies such as food rations.”

While Bangladesh has also been grappling with recent record COVID-19 infections and deaths, thousands of Bangladesh Red Crescent and Cyclone Preparedness Programme volunteers are urgently supporting people to be safe from the cyclone. 

Feroz Salah Uddin, Secretary General, Bangladesh Red Crescent Society said: 

“More than 75,000 trained volunteers are ready to help in the coastal areas before, during, and after the cyclone. Sufficient cyclone shelters are ready so that people can maintain physical distance during evacuation. 

“We have already updated our contingency relief stocks and mapped our existing response capacity to respond to this cyclone.”

In the coastal areas of Bangladesh, thousands of people are still recovering after last year’s Cyclone Amphan, with over 100,000 still living in temporary shelters.  

Sanjeev Kafley, IFRC’s Head of Bangladesh Delegation said:

“We are taking every possible measure to prevent loss of life and reduce damage and suffering from this massive storm. Another big cyclone in India and Bangladesh is placing millions of lives in further jeopardy as people struggle to cope with this paralyzing pandemic.”

The IFRC has allocated more than 254,000 US dollars from its Disaster Relief Emergency Funds to help Bangladesh Red Crescent take early lifesaving action and provide immediate support to the most affected people following the storm.

About IFRC 

IFRC is the world’s largest humanitarian network, comprising 192 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies working to save lives and promote dignity around the world. 

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Media contacts

For more information or to arrange an interview, contact:  

In Kuala Lumpur
Antony Balmain, +60-12-230-8451
antony.balmain@ifrc.org  

In Dhaka
Sajid Hassan, +880 1673 019617
sajid.hasan@ifrc.org