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June 3, 2020
KhabriBaba
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72 dead as Super Cyclone Amphan devastates West Bengal

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According to the weatherman, Amphan is the fiercest cyclone to hit the state in the last 100 years.

 

IMAGE: Mangled remains of a bus after a tree fell on it during Cyclone Amphan, in Kolkata, on Thursday. Several other parts of West Bengal wore a battered look after the extremely severe cyclone Amphan ripped through the state. Photograph: PTI Photo

A powerful cyclone Amphan that tore into West Bengal has killed 72 people and ‘completely devastated’ two districts as Kolkata and several parts of the state wore a battered look on Thursday a day after the storm left thousands of people homeless, washed away bridges and swamped low-lying areas.

IMAGE: Milkmen wade through a flooded road after Cyclone Amphan, in North 24 Parganas district, on Thursday. Photograph: Ashok Bhaumik/PTI Photo

The fiercest cyclone to hit West Bengal in 100 years that destroyed mud houses and agriculture crops, and uprooted trees and electric poles also wreaked havoc in Odisha damaging power and telecom infrastructure in several coastal districts.

Odisha government officials estimated it has affected around 44.8 lakh people in the state.

IMAGE: A passerby looks at car damaged by an uprooted tree in Kolkata, on Thursday. Photograph: PTI Photo

“So far as per the reports we have received, 72 people have died in the state due to Cyclone Amphan. Two districts – North and South 24 Parganas are completely devastated. We have to rebuild those districts from scratch.

“I would urge the Central government to extend all help to the state,” Banerjee told reporters after conducting a review meeting with officials.

IMAGE: A two wheeler tries to pass under an uprooted tree lying across a road, in the aftermath of super cyclone Amphan, in Kolkata. Photograph: Swapan Mahapatra/PTI Photo

“I will visit the affected areas very soon. The restoration work will start soon. A large part of North and South 24 Parganas and Kolkata are facing massive power cut since last evening. Even telephone and mobile connections are down,” she said.

“I have never witnessed such a fierce cyclone and destruction in my life. I would request Prime Minister Narendra Modi to come and visit Cyclone Amphan-affected areas.”

 

IMAGE: A water-logged fuel station is pictured after Cyclone Amphan made its landfall, in Kolkata. Photograph: Rupak De Chowdhuri/Reuters

The chief minister also announced a compensation of Rs 2 lakh to Rs 2.5 lakh for the family members of each of the deceased.

Besides North and South 24 Parganas and Kolkata, the districts of East Midnapore and Howrah were the worst hit as portions of several dilapidated buildings came crashing down in several places. 

IMAGE: A taxi damaged during Cyclone Amphan, in North 24 Parganas. Photograph: Ashok Bhaumik/PTI Photo

Senior officials of the West Bengal government said it was too early to estimate the exact death toll or damage to property as the worst hit areas were still not accessible.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said no stone will be left unturned in helping those affected by the cyclone.

‘Have been seeing visuals from West Bengal on the devastation caused by Cyclone Amphan,’ he tweeted. 

IMAGE: Locals clearing an uprooted tree from the Ranaghat-Krishnagar state highway road, in the aftermath of super cyclone Amphan, near Taherpur in Nadia. Photograph: PTI Photo

In this challenging hour, the entire nation stands in solidarity with West Bengal, the prime minister said.

“Top officials are closely monitoring the situation and also working in close coordination with the West Bengal government. No stone will be left unturned in helping the affected,” he said.

“Praying for the well-being of the people of the state. Efforts are on to ensure normalcy.” 

IMAGE: A man salvages his belongings from the rubble of a damaged shop after Cyclone Amphan made its landfall, in South 24 Parganas district in the eastern state of West Bengal. Photograph: Rupak De Chowdhuri/Reuters

The prime minister also said his thoughts are with the people of Odisha as the state bravely battles the effects of the cyclone.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah spoke to chief ministers of Odisha and West Bengal — Naveen Patnaik and Mamata Banerjee — and assured them of all central help to deal with the prevailing situation. 

IMAGE: Slum dwellers residing along the railroad tracks clear tree branches from tracks in the aftermath of super cyclone Amphan, in Kolkata. Photograph: Swapan Mahapatra/PTI Photo

In Kolkata, hundreds of cars were overturned in the strong winds with speed up to 125 kmph that also felled trees and electricity poles blocking key arterial roads and intersections.

Large parts of Kolkata and other affected districts went without power.

Mobile and internet services were also disrupted as the fierce cyclone had damaged several communication towers. 

IMAGE: A man walks over a collapsed wall after Cyclone Amphan made its landfall, in Kolkata. Photograph: Rupak De Chowdhuri/Reuters

According to the India Meteorological Department(IMD), Amphan is the fiercest cyclone to hit West Bengal in the last 100 years.

It said the cyclone has weakened significantly and moved to Bangladesh where 10 people have been killed.

Chief Minister Banerjee, who has been monitoring the situation at state secretariat Nabanna since Tuesday night, said the impact of Amphan was ‘worse than coronavirus’.

IMAGE: Water-logging at Kolkata airport due to Cyclone Amphan. Photograph: Twitter

‘The situation is very serious. We are in a state of disaster,’ the TMC chief was earlier quoted as having said in an official statement.

‘No bridges exist, electricity lines have been completely disabled and damaged,’ Banerjee said while describing the situation in the worst hit districts.

In several shelter homes in the affected districts, people were seen jostling for food and shelter ignoring the social distancing norms due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

IMAGE: People stand near a banyan tree that fell on a house during Cyclone Amphan at Layekbazar in Birbhum district, on Thursday. Photograph: PTI Photo

More than five lakh people were already evacuated to safety by the state government.

“It is not the city where I have grown up… it seems to be a destroyed one. It seems there was a war yesterday… I cannot believe that this is my Kolkata,” said Sudhir Chakraborty, a resident of south Kolkata’s Rashbehari area.

Packing heavy rain and winds with speeds of up to 190 kmph, the cyclone barrelled through coastal districts of North and South 24 Parganas of Bengal and Odisha on Wednesday unleashing copious rain and windstorm. 

IMAGE: A car parked along a road damaged by an uprooted tree in Kolkata. Photograph: Swapan Mahapatra/PTI Photo

The National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC) reviewed the rescue and relief operations in West Bengal and Odisha at a meeting in Delhi and was told that minimal loss of lives was reported due to accurate forecast by the IMD and timely deployment of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) troops.

Headed by Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba, the NCMC was told by the chief secretaries of West Bengal and Odisha that timely and accurate forecast by the IMD and advance deployment of the NDRF facilitated in evacuation of about five lakh people in West Bengal and about two lakh in Odisha.

SEE: Kolkata brought to its knees by Cyclone Amphan

 

This has resulted in minimal loss of human lives, considering the fact that the intensity of the Amphan was next only to that of the super cyclone that struck Odisha in 1999 causing large scale devastation, an official statement said in Delhi.

The NDRF is moving additional teams to West Bengal to speed up restoration work, especially in Kolkata.

IMAGE: Vehicles ply on a water-logged road during rain after the landfall of super cyclone Amphan, in Kolkata. Photograph: Swapan Mahapatra/PTI Photo

The Food Corporation of India will also ensure adequate availability of food grains, especially rice, to West Bengal so that marooned people are provided immediate sustenance.

The Power Ministry and Department of Telecommunications will also assist in the early restoration of services in both the states. 

IMAGE: A makeshift shop destroyed by the sea waves at Bakkhali due to the landing of Cyclone Amphan, near Sunderbans area in South 24 Parganas district of West Bengal. Photograph: PTI Photo

The Railways, which suffered major damages to its infrastructure, is in the process of restarting its operations at the earliest, the statement said.

The West Bengal government informed there were major damages to agriculture, power and telecommunication facilities in the affected areas.

SEE: Cyclone Amphan wreaks havoc in Paradip

 

Odisha informed that damages have been mainly limited to agriculture. 

At Kolkata central avenue, a small concrete temple situated at the base of a banyan tree was uprooted.

IMAGE: People retrieve belongings from their damaged houses at a slum in Kolkata. Photograph: PTI Photo

According to officials, more than 1,000 mobile towers across the state and city have been completely destroyed.

Streets and homes in low lying areas of Kolkata were swamped with rainwater. 

IMAGE: Police officers carry a disabled man to a safer place following his evacuation from a slum area before Cyclone Amphan makes its landfall, in Kolkata. Photograph: Rupak De Chowdhuri/Reuters

Embankments in Sundarban delta — a UNESCO site — were breached as the surge whipped up by the cyclone inundated several kilometres of the Island.

Four jetties in South 24 Parganas also collapsed on Wednesday night due to the storm.

IMAGE: Rescue workers cut tree branches that fell on a truck trailer after heavy winds caused by Cyclone Amphan, in Kolkata. Photograph: Rupak De Chowdhuri/Reuters

According to the state agricultural department, paddy crop in districts of Burdwan, West Midnapore and Hooghly has been completely destroyed due to the savage cyclone. 

IMAGE: A woman carries her son as she tries to protect him from heavy rain while they rush to a safer place, following their evacuation from a slum area before Cyclone Amphan makes its landfall, in Kolkata. Photograph: Rupak De Chowdhuri/Reuters

Teams of the NDRF and State Disaster Relief Force (SDRF) have been working on a war footing to clear the roads blocked by the falling trees. 

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