Digha, India: Heavy rains and howling winds lashed eastern India on Wednesday as the Covid-stricken country’s second cyclone in as many weeks roared towards the coast, forcing more than 1.2 million people to seek shelter. Scientists say cyclones are becoming more frequent and severe in the northern Indian Ocean as climate change warms the sea, devastating coastal communities. Last week Cyclone Tauktae claimed at least 155 lives in western India. The latest system, Cyclone Yaas, has forced the evacuation of more than 1.2 million people in the eastern states of West Bengal and Odisha. The Indian Meteorological Department said the cyclone, expected to make landfall around midday (0630 GMT), would generate waves higher than rooftops in some areas. Coastal areas were already experiencing wind gusts up to 155 kilometres (95 miles) an hour and pounding rain. “We have been experiencing heavy rainfall and strong winds since last night,” said Bibhu Prasad Panda, a resident of Balasore district in the storm’s path. “Several trees have been uprooted. The cyclone has also led to snapping of overhead electricity cables.” A tornado that preceded the storm left two dead electrocuted as it tore through West Bengal’s Hooghly district, authorities said. Kolkata, West Bengal’s main city, ordered its international airport to shut down for most of Wednesday. The airport in Odisha’s capital, Bhubaneswar, followed suit.