Amphan kills 72 in India

New Age Desk | Published: 23:45, May 21,2020

 
 

An aircraft is seen amidst a collapsed hangar at flooded Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport after the landfall of cyclone Amphan in Kolkata on Thursday. — AFP photo

India began a massive clean-up on Thursday after the fiercest cyclone since 1999 killed at least 72 people, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake, reports AFP.

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

But the death toll was far lower than the many thousands killed in previous cyclones  — a result of improved weather forecasting and better response plans.

The West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee said that at least 72 people had perished — most of them either electrocuted or killed by trees uprooted by winds that gusted up to 185km per hour, reports Aljazeera.com.

Amphan made landfall on Wednesday, lashing coastal areas with ferocious wind and rain. The storm is weakening as it moves north into Bhutan.

Thousands of trees were uprooted in the gales, electricity and telephone lines brought down and houses flattened, reports BBConline.

Many of Kolkata’s roads are flooded and its 14 million people without power. Television footage showed the airport inundated.

Parts of West Bengal and Orissa (also known as Odisha) states in India bore the brunt, with winds gusting up to 185km/h.

Mamata Ban erjee said the devastation in Kolkata, the state capital, was ‘a bigger disaster than Covid-19’.

‘Area after area has been ruined,’ Mamata Banerjee was quoted as saying by the Press Trust of India news agency. ‘I have experienced a war-like situation today.’

Three districts in West Bengal — South and North 24 Parganas and East Midnapore — were very badly hit.

BBC Bengali’s Amitabha Bhattasali in Kolkata says much of the city and its neighbouring districts have been without electricity for a day. Mobile phone networks are not working in some of the worst-hit areas.

Dramatic images shared on social media showed electricity transformers exploding in busy neighbourhoods as the storm swept the city.

Kolkata resident Shamik Bag described a terrifying scene: ‘Trees uprooted, power supply snapped, lamp posts unhinged, glass panes... shattered, internet connections flickered’. Children screamed.

‘Even with all doors and windows tightly shut, my house groaned under the pressure of the howling wind outside. Within 45 minutes, the streets outside got flooded, even as floodwaters rushed into the ground floor of homes.

‘When the power lines were restored after the storm, neighbourhood children — much like [we did] during our own childhood when power cuts were rampant — burst out in a spontaneous, cheerful chorus.’

Most people were at home when the storm struck. Kolkata and the rest of India is in lockdown because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The last super cyclone in 1999 left nearly 10,000 dead in India’s Odisha state.

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