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Home News World India, Bangladesh cyclone deaths hit 95

India, Bangladesh cyclone deaths hit 95

 

NEW DELHI: India and Bangladesh began a massive cleanup on Friday after the fiercest cyclone since 1999 killed at least 95 people, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake.

Cyclone “Amphan” flattened houses, uprooted trees, blew off roofs and toppled electricity pylons while a storm surge inundated coastal villages and wrecked shrimp farms vital to the local economy.

The United Nations office in Bangladesh estimates 10 million people were affected and some 500,000 people may have lost their homes.


Motorists make their way through damaged cables and a tree branch fallen in the middle of a road after Cyclone Amphan hit the region in Kolkata, India, Thursday, May 21, 2020. People forgot about social distancing and crammed themselves into government shelters, minutes before Cyclone Amphan crashed in West Bengal. The cyclone killed dozens of people and the coronavirus nine in this region, one of India’s poorer states. Even before the cyclone, its pandemic response was lagging; the state has one of the highest fatality rates from COVID-19 in India. With an economy crippled by India’s eight-week lockdown, and health care systems sapped by the virus, authorities must tackle both COVID-19 and the cyclone’s aftermath. AP Photo

Wide swaths of coastal India and Bangladesh were flooded and millions were without power since Thursday as Cyclone Amphan, the most powerful storm to hit the region in more than a decade, is still ravaging nearby provinces between the two countries.

Many parts of the Indian metropolis of Kolkata, home to more than 14 million people, were under water, and its airport was closed briefly by flooding. Roads were littered with uprooted trees and lamp posts, electricity and communication lines were down and centuries-old buildings were damaged.

Officials in both countries said the full extent of the damage caused by the cyclone was not known because communications to many places were cut. Hundreds of thousands of people were evacuated ahead of the storm, a process complicated by the coronavirus pandemic.

Amphan came ashore Wednesday with heavy rain, a battering storm surge and sustained winds of 170 kilometers per hour (kph) and gusts up to 190 kph. It devastated coastal villages, knocking down mud houses, tearing down utility poles and uprooting trees.

“I have never seen such a disaster before,” said West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, adding that the government would pay the equivalent of $3,310 to families who lost a relative in the storm.

At least 74 people were killed in India, with most of the deaths in West Bengal state, which includes Kolkata. Broadcasters in Bangladesh reported 13 were killed in that country.

“The roofs of many homes have flown away and the streets are waterlogged,” said Shuli Ghosh, who runs a cafe in Kolkata.

With many of its streets still flooded and phone and internet service not fully restored, officials said they were trying to determine the extent of damage in the capital of West Bengal state.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said authorities were working to get all possible assistance to victims of the cyclone. “No stone will be left unturned in helping the affected,” he tweeted.

About 10 million people in Bangladesh remained without electricity, said Moin Uddin, chairman of the Bangladesh Rural Electrification Board.

Hundreds of villages were flooded and shelters were unable to run at full capacity in many places because of the coronavirus. Some people were too scared about the risk of infection to go there.

The pandemic also will affect relief efforts and the recovery. Damage from the storm is likely to have lasting repercussions for the poor, who are already stretched to the limit by the economic impact of the virus.

In an initial assessment in Bangladesh, Enamur Rahman, the country’s junior minister for disaster management, said the cyclone caused about $130 million in damage to infrastructure, housing, fisheries, livestock, water resources and agriculture.

A total of 1,100 kilometers of roads, 150 flood-protection embankments and nearly 200,000 shrimp farms have been damaged in 26 of 64 districts, Rahman said in a news conference, adding that crops on 200,000 hectares have been damaged.

In India’s Odisha state, the cyclone destroyed crops of betel, a leaf used as a wrapper for chewing areca nut or tobacco. In Bangladesh’s southwestern district of Bagerhat, more than 500 fish farms were flooded.

AP/AFP

 

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