Monster cyclone Amphan kills 72 in Bengal, CM says will have to rebuild from scratch
At least 72 people have died in West Bengal due to cyclone Amphan, chief minister Mamata Banerjee said on Thursday, urging Prime Minister Narendra Modi to visit the affected districts and provide help to 'rebuild those areas from scratch'.
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.
'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 said after conducting a review meeting with officials.
'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 cuts 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,' Banerjee said.
Modi assures help
Earlier in the day, the Prime Minister said no stone will be left unturned in helping those affected 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,” he said in a series of tweets.
Officials said that thousands of people have been left homeless in North and South 24 Parganas and East Midnapore districts due to the cyclone that wreaked havoc last night.
'Tens of thousands of kachchha houses, trees and electric poles have collapsed (in the two 24-Parganas). At least 15 embankments were breached. Telephone connectivity is badly affected,' an official told The Telegraph.
'In Minakha alone, 5,200 houses have collapsed. Dozens of places are as badly affected or worse.”
The official said National Highway 117 had become virtually inaccessible because of fallen trees between Calcutta and Diamond Harbour.
In Calcutta, streets and homes in low-lying areas were swaped with rainwater. Over a thousand mobile phone towers have been destroyed and the same dilapidated buildings in the state capital have crashed.
Embankments in Sundarban delta—a UNESCO site—were breached as the surge whipped up by the cyclone inundated several kilometers of the Island. Four jetties in South 24 Parganas have collapsed last night due to the storm.
Further, NDTV.com reported that Calcutta airport was flooded and many structures within it damaged. Visuals from the scene showed flooded runways, hangars, and tarmac. An aircraft was seen in knee-deep water, the news website said.
Mobile and internet services were also disrupted as the fierce cyclone had damaged several communication towers.
According to the India Meteorological Department(IMD), the cyclone has weakened significantly and moved to Bangladesh where 10 people have been killed.
Worse than Covid: Mamata
Earlier, Banerjee, who has been monitoring the situation at state secretariat Nabanna since Tuesday night, had said the impact of Amphan was 'worse than coronavirus'.
“The situation is very serious. We are in a state of disaster. The two Parganas(districts) are completely devastated,” the TMC chief was 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. She has urged the Centre to help the affected people.
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.
“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 Calcutta,” said Sudhir Chakraborty, a resident of south Calcutta's Rashbehari area.
Packing heavy rain and winds with speeds of up to 190kmph, the cyclone barrelled through coastal districts of North and South 24 Parganas of Bengal and Odisha on Wednesday unleashing copious rain and windstorm.
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.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) May 21, 2020
Trail of destruction
In Calcutta and several parts of the state, rescuers were seen searching for survivors as the state capital wore a battered look.
The cyclone has ripped through the state and left thousands of people homeless, washed away bridges and swamped low-lying areas.
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.
Senior officials of the Bengal government have said it was too early to estimate the damage to property as the worst hit areas were still not accessible.