Rediff.com  » News » 72 dead as Super Cyclone Amphan devastates West Bengal

72 dead as Super Cyclone Amphan devastates West Bengal

Source: PTI  -  Edited By: THE REDIFF NEWS BUREAU
Last updated on: May 22, 2020 08:39 IST
Get Rediff News in your Inbox:

The fiercest cyclone to hit Bengal in 100 yrs destroyed mud houses and crops, and uprooted trees and electric poles.
Windows buckled from the pressure of the storm, cars floated on water-logged roads, bumping against each other.
Parts of air conditioners were flying around like missiles.

 

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

Cyclone Amphan weakened Thursday, a day after tearing through West Bengal where 72 people were killed and two districts were 'completely devastated' with thousands of people left homeless, bridges washed away and low-lying areas in waist deep water.

The fiercest cyclone to hit West Bengal in 100 years destroyed mud houses and crops, and uprooted trees and electric poles.

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

It also wreaked havoc in Odisha damaging power and telecom infrastructure in several coastal districts. Odisha government officials estimated that the cyclone has affected around 44.8 lakh people in the state.

"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 Pargana -- are completely devastated. We have to rebuild those districts from scratch. I would urge the Central government to extend all help to the state," Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee told reporters after conducting a review meeting with officials.

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

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

The death toll included 17 from North 24 Parganas, 15 from Kolkata, 10 from Basirhat and four from the South 24 Parganas-Sunderban region, officials said.

"Never in my life have I seen a cyclone like this in Bengal," said 95-year-old Ashok Roy, a retired school teacher in Kolkata visibly shaken by the ferocity of the cyclone.

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.

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: 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

Residents recalled 'living through hell' for six hours as the winds howled incessantly.

Windows buckled from the pressure of the storm, cars floated on water logged roads, bumping against each other.

Parts of air conditioners were flying around like missiles.

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

Buses and taxis crashed against each other, small fishing boats turned turtle and grounded planes shook at the inundated Kolkata airport.

"The worst was the wind. The six hours went very slowly yesterday," said Mithu Chatterjee who lives on the fifth floor of a 30-storey building.

Many residents who lived on the top floors wanted to come down but lifts were shut.

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

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.

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

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

Union Home Minister Amit Shah spoke to Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and his West Bengal counterpart Banjerjee, and assured them of all central help.

The Indian Meteorological Departmnt (IMD) said the cyclone has weakened significantly and moved to Bangladesh where 10 people have been killed.

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

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'.

'The situation is very serious. We are in a state of disaster,' the Trinamool Congress 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.

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

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.

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

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

“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.

Kolkata Mayor Firhad Hakim said more than 14 lakh people in the city are living without electricity since Wednesday night.

SEE: Kolkata brought to its knees by Cyclone Amphan

 

"The entire city has been devastated. Around 4,000 trees have been uprooted in Kolkata. We are short of staff due to the Lockdown. It will take some time to restore normalcy," Hakim said.

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: Vehicles ply on a water-logged road during rain after the landfall of super cyclone Amphan, 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 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 National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) facilitated in evacuation of about five lakh people in West Bengal and about two lakh in Odisha.

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

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 National Disaster Response Force is moving additional teams to West Bengal to speed up restoration work, especially in Kolkata.

SEE: Cyclone Amphan wreaks havoc in Paradip

 

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: People retrieve belongings from their damaged houses at a slum in Kolkata. 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.

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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.

Get Rediff News in your Inbox:
Source: PTI  -  Edited By: THE REDIFF NEWS BUREAU© Copyright 2020 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.
SHARE THIS STORY