Guwahati: Cyclone Amphan that lashed out in the coastal and mainland regions of India and Bangladesh is believed to have impacted more than 10 million people. Thousands of trees have been uprooted, power lines brought down, houses and properties flattened by the ferocious rains and wind due to the extreme super cyclone. A total of 84 lives have been lost in both the countries so far.
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday told the media that the death toll in West Bengal alone was 72 — 15 of them were from the city of Kolkata itself. With two deaths in Odisha, the death toll in India now stands at 74.
According to Banerjee, most of the deaths in West Bengal were caused by falling of trees and electrocution. The deceased in Odisha included a woman and a two-month-old baby that died due to falling of walls due to the storm.
Almost 5,000 houses were destroyed in North 24 Parganas district of West Bengal. Banerjee said that she has seen nothing like this in her entire life. She added that two districts (North and South 24 Parganas) and the city of Kolkata have been “completely devasted. We have to rebuild those districts from a scratch”. “I have experienced a war-like situation today,” she said.
Officials believe that the world’s largest mangrove forest Sundarbans which is shared by both the countries might have absorbed most of the impact of the storm.
PM Narendra Modi stated in a tweet that: “Have been seeing visuals from West Bengal on the devastation caused by Cyclone Amphan. In this challenging hour, the entire nation stands in solidarity with West Bengal. Praying for the well-being of the people of the state. Efforts are on to ensure normalcy.”
PM Modi visited and did an areal survey of the devastation of West Bengal on Friday. “I announce an advance interim assistance of Rs 1,000 crore for the state. A detailed survey will be conducted of the damage to agriculture, power and other sectors, besides damage to houses,” he said.
He also said an ex gratia amount of Rs 2 lakh will be given to the families of those killed during the devastation, and Rs 50,000 for the injured.
However, the number of lives lost might have gone even higher had it not been the timely evacuation of around 6,58,000 people by both the Odisha and West Bengal governments. Up to 1,58,000 people from Odisha and 5,00,000 people from West Bengal were evacuated before the cyclone made its landfall. However, most of them were taken to relief camps and are still unable to return to their homes or step out due to possible contact with high-tension electric cables and electrocution.
On Thursday, the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) said that the “climatological intelligence” of Indian Meteorological Department was accurate and helped in saving lives and minimising damages. Director of NDRF general SN Pradhan said that Odisha might bounce back in the next 24-48 hours. However, West Bengal government has sought four more NDRF teams.
Pradhan added that restoration work is already underway and they are ready to deploy more personnel if the need arises and that overall damage has not been assessed yet. The death toll may also rise.
On Wednesday evening, the cyclone, which made its landfall around 20 km east of Sagar Island in the Sunderbans, pressing breezes blasting to a top speed of 185 kilometers for each hour, crippled many states in its wake (the worst being West Bengal). It hit Kolkata at a wind speed of 130 km per hour. Collectively, parts of West Bengal and Odisha in India, and some regions in south-west Bangladesh, endured the worst part, with twists blasting up to 185km per hour (115 mph).