Cyclone Amphan takes at least 10-12 lives in Bengal, three in Odisha, total damage being ascertained
Several areas hit by the super cyclone in Bengal were cut off and ascertaining the extent of the damage caused will take time, said Mamata Banerjee.Updated: May 21, 2020 00:20 IST
Super cyclone Amphan has taken at least 10-12 lives in West Bengal and at least another three in Odisha as it wreaked havoc in districts of North and South 24 Parganas after roaring past coastal districts of Odisha before making landfall between Digha in West Bengal and Bangladesh’s Hatia islands late Wednesday afternoon. Uprooted trees, traffic signals and power outages were left in its wake.
At around 2:30 pm on Wednesday, Cyclone Amphan made landfall with sustained wind speeds of 155-165 kmph spiralling up to 185 kmph and weakening to 130 kmph when it reached West Bengal capital Kolkata, uprooting trees and traffic signals and blocking arterial roads. Some portions of dilapidated buildings caved in.
Chief minister Mamata Banerjee said the cyclone had killed “at least 10-12 people” in the state and caused the maximum damage in the two districts of South 24 Parganas and North 24 Parganas, which were “totally devastated”.
“There are 5 lakh persons in relief centers. Several areas are 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 told reporters.
The details of the reported casualties in Bengal are awaited.
Banerjee will remain at the state secretariat Nabanna, where she has been camping since Tuesday, to oversee further relief operations and take stock of the damage.
Early reports from coastal Bengal received on Wednesday evening indicated that thousands of mudhouses collapsed in the storm, while trees and electric poles were uprooted. Embankments were breached and saline water gushed into villages in several districts in the Sundarbans.
In neighbouring Odisha’s Bhadrak district, a two-month-old baby was killed when the walls of his family’s mud house collapsed early Wednesday morning due to overnight rain, while in Kendrapara district, a woman who had gone out fishing this morning drowned to death. Officials said that a team had been sent to Bhadrak district to ascertain the exact cause of death after an autopsy.
A woman of Bhogarai block in Balasore district died after an electric pole fell on her. The woman had stepped outside for some work when the pole uprooted due to the winds.
While officials in Odisha had evacuated more than 1.5 lakh people from the coastal and adjoining districts into cyclone shelters till Tuesday evening, they could not clarify why the family of the deceased newborn was left behind.
Amphan, the strongest storm since the 1999 supercyclone, first barreled along the Odisha coast, with maximum wind speeds of between 100-120 kmph in Paradip and the Dhamra coast of Bhadrak district respectively. It uprooted trees and bent electric poles in coastal Odisha districts of Kendrapara, Jagatsinghpur, Bhadrak and Balasore. Nearly 34 lakh power consumers in the state were affected as 65 numbers of 33 KV feeders were affected by the cyclone. However, special relief commissioner Pradip Jena said that more than 90 per cent of the state’s telecom infrastructure was not affected.
Jena said after the cyclone passed, the administration aided by the NDRF, ODRAF, Fire Services and workers of Odisha Forest Develoopment Corporation had begun clearing roads in the four districts.
Early Wednesday, the port town of Paradip faced Amphan’s fury as a gale-force wind of over 100 kmph accompanied by more than 200 mm of rain, uprooted scores of trees, electric poles, blew away asbestos and tin roofs of several. At the port, more than 100 truck drivers took shelter in their vehicles, waiting for the storm to blow over.
In a village in Kendrapara district, a 20-year old woman delivered her baby in a fire service vehicle while being taken to a government hospital, after an ambulance was unable to reach them due to the adverse weather and roads blocked by fallen trees. The fire service teams used tree-cutting machinery to clear the roadblock and transport the woman. The mother and infant are admitted to the hospital and said to be out of danger.