After the very severe cyclonic storm Bulbul last year, Cyclone Amphan on Wednesday swept through the coastal areas of West Bengal and Odisha, leaving a trail of destruction (see photos here) and claiming as many as 72 lives so far. With Bengal in the eye of Amphan, the state bore the maximum brunt of the cyclonic storm with a wind speed as high as 130 kmph in Dum Dum area.
Odisha, on the other hand, was comparatively less hit by the disaster, with an official saying the “damages have not been too bad”.
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According to the latest bulletin issued by the Indian Meteorological Department, the cyclone has now moved north-northeastwards and lay centered over Bangladesh about 300 km east-northeast of Kolkata, 110 km south-southeast of Dhubri and 80 km south-southeast of Rangpur in Bangladesh, the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) said in its latest bulletin. It is very likely to further weaken into a depression later today and further into a well marked low thereafter, the IMD added.
A look at what all has happened so far:
Cyclone Amphan made landfall in the coastal areas of the state at around 2.30 pm on Wednesday. According to the IMD, the extremely severe cyclonic storm Amphan crossed West Bengal-Bangladesh coast between Digha (West Bengal) and Hatiya Islands (Bangladesh) across Sunderbans (West Bengal) near latitude 21.65N & longitude 88.3E between 3.30 pm and 5.30 pm with wind speed of 155-165 kmph gusting to 185 kmph.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said that at least 10 to 12 people have died and various districts of South Bengal have been devastated by Amphan.
Cyclone Amphan impact on Kolkata: In Kolkata, the storm began with a wind speed of 69 kmph but it reached 130 kmph at around 6.55 pm and thereafter increased its intensity. In Dum Dum area, maximum wind speed recorded was 133 kmph at 1920 IST.
Trees were uprooted in over thirty areas including New Alipore, Central Avenue, SN Banerjee Road, Bidhan Sarani, Shakespeare Sarani, Ballygunge, Maidan, Hastings, Prince Anwar Shah Road, Gariahat and others. In many places, tress were uprooted with traffic signals. All major roads were blocked. There were report of water logging in some streets too and rains continued since morning.
By 1 pm, the administration had shut the Howrah Bridge, Vivekananda Setu (Second Hooghly Bridge) and all flyovers in Kolkata for traffic as a precautionary measure. A two-storey house collapsed in Entally area. Various parts of of Kolkata saw power cuts. On late evening, KMC started clearance work to remove the trees and traffic signals from the roads.
#CycloneAmphan : this is #kolkata airport on Thursday morning. Chief Minister @MamataOfficial was right, the destruction has been colossal. Can only imagine the scale in #Sundarban and adjoining areas #disaster #extremeweather #Amphan #climatechange pic.twitter.com/VIKHuAO8X7
— Stella Paul (@stellasglobe) May 21, 2020
Districts affected: The districts of East Midnapore, South 24 Parganas and North 24 Parganas were worst affected. The same areas were affected by cyclone Bulbul in November 2019. Howrah, Kolkata, West Midnapore, East Midnapore, Puruli and Bankura were also severely hit by the story.
As the cyclone intensified, wind gathered speed uprooting trees and damaging electrical poles. A large number of mud houses collapsed. A number of embankments was breached in coastal areas and reports of flooding in low lying areas were coming in from several areas in South 24 Parganas and North 24 Parganas districts. Electricity was cut off in coastal areas and worse affected districts as a precaution by authorities. According to a North 24 Parganas district official, more than 5,200 mud houses collapsed in the said district.
Relief measures: The chief minister said that it will take three to four days to assess the damage done.
“On one hand we are fighting with Covid 19 on the other hand lakhs of migrants are coming back. Over all this now the cyclone. I think that this (Amphan) is a disaster bigger than Covid 19. I would request (centre) please forget politics and co operate with us and save the people,” she added.
The chief minister informed that a meeting of a special task force will take place to assess the damage and find ways to provide relief to the people.
Chief secretary Rajiva Sinha said, “It will take time for our workers to reach the affected areas. It will be only day after tomorrow that proper work can begin. The cyclone is still in North 24 parganas. There is huge loss in agriculture. We will first provide humanitarian help like food, water and shelter to those affected. Then we will think of a way to financially help or provide job avenues, so that they can stand on their feet.
— Babu Bhaiya (@Shahrcasm) May 20, 2020
Firhad Hakim, state urban development minister and chairman of administrative board of KMC said, “The cyclone is playing havoc in the state. We are keeping a watch. It would be risky to immediately start pressing our men on the roads. Let the cyclone pass, we will start work in war footing. We are receiving information and complaints. Our chief minister will stay over night in control room in Nabanna. We will also stay overnight here in KMC.”
Entire nation with Bengal: PM Modi
Taking note of the devastation caused by the cyclonic storm, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said no stone will be left unturned in helping those affected by Amphan. “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,” he posted on Twitter.
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
Odisha is assessing the damage caused by the cyclone, which has impacted its coastal districts. However, officials say, the worst is now over for the state as Amphan has made landfall in neighbouring West Bengal. There were turbulent conditions on Wednesday for about seven hours, and the “damage has not been too bad”, an official said.
On reports of the death of a person due to the cyclone, the official said that there were “contradictory versions”, and that an official confirmation will be available on Thursday.
Destruction caused: Pradip Jena, Special Relief Commissioner, told The Indian Express: “Lots of trees have been uprooted. That assessment is continuing and will take time. There has been some damage to electrical infrastructure. By tomorrow, we will come out with the final assessment. There has been some agricultural damage as well. Fifty to 60 thousand hectares of paddy, and 30 to 40 thousand hectares of other crops. There has been the allegation of one death, but there are contradictory views that are coming in. We have sent (the body) for post mortem, and after that we can say officially.”
“As per the preliminary report received from the Department of Energy, 65 numbers of 33 KV Feeders have been affected and (around 19 lakh) consumers have been affected in Balasore, Bhadrak, Jajapur, Mayurbhanj, Jagatsinghpur and Ganjam Districts..it is observed that about 90 % of the telecom towers/ infrastructure are intact and only shifting of antenna is observed in the affected districts. Telecom Service Providers have started working in areas where cyclone has subsided for restoration of the damaged equipment,” a release from the Special Relief Commissioner’s Office said.
My thoughts are with the people of Odisha as the state bravely battles the effects of Cyclone Amphan. Authorities are working on the ground to ensure all possible assistance to the those affected. I pray that the situation normalises at the earliest.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) May 21, 2020
Relief measures: The release added that post-disaster road clearance had started in Kendrapara, Jagatsinghpur, Bhadrak and other areas by the National Disaster Response Force, Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force and ODRAF Fire Service.
“My thoughts are with the people of Odisha as the state bravely battles the effects of Cyclone Amphan. Authorities are working on the ground to ensure all possible assistance to the those affected. I pray that the situation normalises at the earliest,” Modi tweeted.
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