Cyclone Amphan Leaves Behind Trail Of Destruction In West Bengal, 12 Dead
Kolkata and several parts of West Bengal wore a battered look Thursday after Cyclone 'Amphan' ripped through the state, leaving 12 people dead and blowing up shanties, uprooting thousands of trees besides swamping low-lying areas.
There are unconfirmed reports of eight more deaths from various parts of the state.
Large parts of Kolkata and other affected districts were without electricity as power poles were uprooted. Mobile and internet services were also down as the cyclone damaged several communication towers. Senior state officials said it was too early to estimate death toll or damages as the hardest hit areas were still not accessible.
According to the India Meteorological Department, Cyclone Amphan is the fiercest cyclone to hit the state in the last 100 years.
Packing heavy rain and winds with speeds of up to 190 km/h, Amphan slammed Digha coast of West Bengal at 2:30 pm on Wednesday, triggering heavy rainfall and wind gusts in various parts of the state.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who has been monitoring the situation at state secretariat Nabanna since Tuesday night, said the impact of Amphan was "worse than coronavirus".
While a man and a woman were killed when trees came crashing down on them in North 24 Parganas district, a 13-year-old girl died in a similar incident in adjoining Howrah, officials said. Four persons were killed in Hooghly and North 24 Paraganas districts due to electrocution, they said.
A woman and her seven-year-old son were killed in the Regent park area of Kolkata after a tree fell on them, while two persons died due to electrocution in Behala area, the officials said. They said a person was killed in Kolkata after being hit by a flying object during the storm.
The districts of East Midnapore, Howrah, North and South 24 Paraganas along with the state capital has been worst hit.
The cyclone barrelled through coastal districts of North and South 24 Paraganas of Bengal, unleashing copious rain and windstorm, blowing away thatched houses, uprooting trees, electric poles and swamping low lying towns and villages, officials said.
Strong winds with speeds of up to 125 km/h upturned cars in Kolkata and felled trees and electricity poles, blocking important roads and intersections. More than 500 trees, along with few hundred electric posts, traffic signals and police kiosks have been uprooted, said an official with the Kolkata Municipal Corporation.
Reports arriving in Kolkata from North and South 24 Parganas and East Midnapore said roofs of thatched houses were blown away, electric poles got twisted and hundreds of trees broken and uprooted. Thousands of people have been rendered homeless in these districts due to the cyclone last night, officials said.
According to officials, more than 1,000 mobile towers across the state and city has been completely destroyed. Streets and homes in low lying areas of Kolkata were swamped with rainwater. Portions of several dilapidated buildings came crashing down in Kolkata and other parts of the state.
Embankments in the 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 Paraganas have collapsed last night due to the storm.
According to the West Bengal agricultural department, paddy crop in the districts of Burdwan, West Midnapore and Hooghly has been completely destroyed due to the cyclone.
Teams of National Disaster Relief Force and State Disaster Relief Force are working on a war footing to clear the roads. Heavy machinery was moved in to clear the roads blocked by falling trees.
In several shelter homes in the districts, people were seen jostling for food and shelter, giving a thumbs down to social distancing norms due to the Covid-19 pandemic. More than five lakh people have been evacuated to safety by the state government.