Cyclone leaves 72 dead in West Bengal

Fiercest storm to hit state in century | Destroys houses, crops | Lakhs hit in Odisha too

Kolkata/Bhubaneswar, May 21

ASSISTANCE ON THE WAY

  • NDRF is moving more teams to West Bengal for restoration work
  • FCI to ensure availability of foodgrain for the marooned
  • Railways, which suffered major damages, to restart ops soon

Cyclone Amphan that tore into West Bengal killed 72 people and “completely devastated” two districts as Kolkata and several parts of the state wore a battered look on Thursday, a day after the storm left thousands of people homeless, washed away bridges and swamped low-lying areas.

Edit: In the eye of the storm

The fiercest cyclone to hit West Bengal in 100 years destroyed mud houses and crops, and uprooted trees and electricity poles. It also wreaked havoc in Odisha, damaging power and telecom infrastructure in several coastal districts. Odisha Government officials estimated it had affected around 44.8 lakh people in the state.

“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,” Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee told reporters after conducting a review meeting with officials.

“The restoration work will start soon. Large parts of North and South 24 Parganas and Kolkata are facing a massive power cut since last evening. Even telephone and mobile connections are down,” she said, announcing a compensation of Rs 2 lakh to Rs 2.5 lakh for the next of kin of each of the deceased.

Besides North and South 24 Parganas and Kolkata, the districts of East Midnapore and Howrah were the worst hit as portions of several dilapidated buildings came crashing down in several places.

In Kolkata, hundreds of cars were overturned by the strong winds with speed up to 125 kmph. Large parts of Kolkata and other affected districts went without power as felled trees and electricity poles were blocking key arterial roads and intersections. Mobile and Internet services were also disrupted as the fierce cyclone had damaged several communication towers.

Residents recalled “living through hell” for six hours as the winds howled incessantly. Windows buckled from the pressure of the storm, cars floated on waterlogged roads, bumping against each other. Parts of air conditioners were flying around like missiles

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said no stone would be left unturned in helping those affected by the cyclone. “Have been seeing visuals from West Bengal on the devastation caused by Cyclone Amphan,” he tweeted.

In this challenging hour, the entire nation stands in solidarity with West Bengal, the PM said. Mamata, who has been monitoring the situation at state secretariat Nabanna since Tuesday, said the impact of Amphan was “worse than coronavirus”. — PTI

Telecom in tatters

In Kolkata, hundreds of cars were overturned by strong winds with speeds up to 125 kmph. The fierce cyclone felled trees and electricity poles, blocking key roads. Mobile and Internet services were disrupted as 1,000 mobile towers across Bengal were destroyed.

Shah speaks to CMs

New Delhi: Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Thursday spoke to Chief Ministers of Odisha and West Bengal — Naveen Patnaik and Mamata Banerjee — and assured them of all possible help.

PM to survey area

PM Narendra Modi will undertake an aerial survey of “cyclone-hit” areas on Friday, sources said. Earlier, Modi had tweeted no stone would be left unturned in helping those hit by the cyclone.

2 dists devastated

Two districts — North and South 24 Parganas — are devastated. We have to rebuild the districts from scratch. I urge the Centre to extend all help —Mamata Banerjee, Bengal Chief Minister

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