Cyclone Amphan ravages Odisha, Bengal; leaves behind trail of destruction
Special relief commissioner Pradip Jena said over 90% of the state’s telecom infrastructure, however, remained unaffected.Updated: May 21, 2020 04:07 IST
Cyclone Amphan, which hit India’s eastern coast with winds gusting up to 185 kph on Wednesday, first barrelled along the Odisha coast with a maximum speed between 100-120 kph in Paradip and Dhamra in Bhadrak district before hitting Kendrapara, Jagatsinghpur, and Balasore. It uprooted trees, traffic signals, electric police and left nearly 3.4 million people without electricity, officials said.
Special relief commissioner Pradip Jena said over 90% of the state’s telecom infrastructure, however, remained unaffected. He added the administration has begun clearing roads in the four affected districts with the help of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams. Jena said the state government’s target is to clear the stretches where trees have been uprooted and restore road communication in 12 hours. Efforts are on to restore power supply as soon as possible, he added.
NDRF chief S N Pradhan told a press conference in New Delhi that 20 teams of the federal disaster response force had begun the road clearing operations in Odisha, while the 19 units deployed in West Bengal were shifting people to safety.
Jena said the Odisha government has asked collectors of the affected districts to submit preliminary assessment reports on the damage caused within two days. He added the cyclone has caused damage to some government buildings and structures, affected agriculture and horticulture sectors, houses and power infrastructure.
Jena said a crop advisory, prepared by the Directorate of Agriculture for protection of matured and harvested paddy as well as non-paddy, had been issued for wide circulation among the field functionaries and farmers. “Awareness camps and mike announcements were also taken up in different villages to shift the harvested crops and grains to a safer place,” he added.
A 20-year old woman delivered her baby in a fire service vehicle while being taken to a hospital in Kendrapara district. Officials said an ambulance was unable to reach her village because of the adverse weather and closure of a road due to uprooted trees. A fire service team used tree-cutting machinery to clear the road and transport the woman. The mother and infant were later admitted to the hospital and said to be out of danger.
The cyclone made landfall in Digha in coastal West Bengal with a sustained wind speed of 155-165 kph. The speed weakened to 130 kph when it reached Kolkata and uprooted trees, traffic signals and blocked arterial roads. Some portions of dilapidated buildings in the city collapsed.
Reports from coastal Bengal indicated that thousands of mud houses had collapsed and embankments were breached with saline water gushing into villages in several districts in the Sundarbans region.
West Bengal chief Mamata Banerjee told reporters that several areas were totally cut off and cannot be reached yet. “We have no information yet. It will take at least 3-4 days to assess the damage,” Banerjee said. She added South 24 Parganas and North 24 Parganas districts were “totally devastated”. “There are 500,000 people in relief centres,” Banerjee said.
Banerjee will remain at the state secretariat, where she has been camping since Tuesday to oversee relief operations and take stock of the damage.