Cyclone Amphan slammed into Bangladesh and northeastern India, bringing strong winds and heavy rain and raising the risk of significant storm surge in a very low-lying part of the continent.
The storm made landfall around 4 p.m. local time Wednesday, weaker from its peak but still featuring strong winds of 140 km/h. More weakening is expected, but the storm will still bring extreme rainfall to the impacted region.
Amphan is expected to lose tropical status by Thursday.
At one point, Amphan's winds were the equivalent to a Category 5 hurricane, tied with Gonu (2007) for the strongest tropical cyclone on record in the north Indian Ocean, according to Dr. Phil Klotzbach, a tropical scientist at Colorado State University.
Mrutyunjay Mohapatra, India's meteorological chief, says that this is the second super cyclone on record that has formed over the Bay of Bengal.
POTENTIALLY 'CATASTROPHIC' STORM SURGE
Authorities in the region ordered the evacuation of some three million people before the storm's arrival, ahead of expected storm surge of 4 to 5 metres over parts of the Indian state of West Bengal, with 3 to 4 metres possible in Bangladesh.
At least five people have been reported dead in the two countries, either from building collapses, floodwaters or falling trees, including two children and a 75-year-old man.
The Indian Ocean is a hotspot for cyclones, which are named differently from hurricanes in the North Atlantic but form the same way. The 1970 Bhola cyclone, which struck Bangladesh, is believed to have killed half a million people.