Kolkata

Cyclone Amphan kills 72 in West Bengal, brings life to a halt

A bus that got crushed after a tree fell on it when cyclone Amphan swept through Kolkata.

A bus that got crushed after a tree fell on it when cyclone Amphan swept through Kolkata.   | Photo Credit: PTI

Deaths have occurred in eight districts, including 15 in Kolkata; casualties were due to falling of trees, electrocution, house collapse; PM to take aerial survey; Mamata sets up ₹1,000-crore fund.

The death toll in Super Cyclone Amphan in West Bengal increased to 72, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said on Thursday. Fifteen of the deceased were from Kolkata, she said.

Ms. Banerjee, who met senior officials at the State Secretariat to take stock of the damage, said she had not seen such a disaster in her life. “I haven’t seen such a disaster in my entire life. I will ask the Prime Minister to visit the State and see it for himself.”

 

She said Union Home Minister Amit Shah had called her up, and she informed him of the enormity of the disaster. She said the impact of the cyclone was so severe that Nabanna, the State Secretariat building, shook.

Deaths were reported from eight districts. South 24 Parganas recorded the maximum of 18 deaths, followed by North 24 Parganas with 17 deaths. People also died in Howrah, Hooghly, Purba Medinipur and Nadia. The deaths were mainly due to the falling of trees, electrocution and the collapse of poorly built houses.

Such areas as Kakdwip and Namkhana in South 24 Parganas and Minakha and Hingalganj in North 24 Parganas were the worst affected by the cyclone, which made landfall near Sagar Island. Damage has been reported from eight districts, but the maximum damage has occurred in the coastal districts, including South and North 24 Parganas. Thousands of ‘katcha’ houses were damaged in the two districts and a large part of the Sunderbans police district was inundated because of the storm surge, which was four-five metres above the tide level.

Ms. Banerjee said she would visit the affected areas after three to four days, once connectivity was restored. “There is no telephone connection and there is no electricity in these parts of the State.” She said the government had set up a ₹1,000-crore relief fund. The government has evacuated five lakh people and kept them in cyclone shelters.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will travel to West Bengal and Odisha on Friday to take stock of the situation, the Prime Minister’s Office said. “He will conduct aerial surveys and take part in review meetings,” the PMO said in a tweet.

In pictures: Amphan leaves West Bengal, Odisha reeling

At the meeting with officials, the Chief Minister said there was a scarcity of drinking water in South 24 Parganas and North 24 Parganas and asked them to ensure supply.

Ms. Banerjee said the Department of Forest would have to plant trees on a war footing as 40% of the trees had been damaged in the affected areas. By Thursday afternoon, the cyclonic storm moved eastward and crossed over Bengal and lay in Bangladesh. 

45 lakh affected in Odisha

Around 45 lakh people were affected in Odisha. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik made an aerial survey of the affected districts and expressed concern over the damage to standing crops. He ordered early repairs to damaged infrastructure. He was informed that roads would be cleared by Friday morning. 

About 30 lakh power consumers have been affected. The Central Electricity Supply Utility of Odisha will restore electricity in coastal districts in the next 24 hours. The North Eastern Electricity Supply Company of Odisha, which distributes power in northern districts, has been given 72 hours to restore supply. 

The Chief Minister directed that the crop damage assessment be completed in the next three days.

The cyclone has affected 44.80 lakh people in 89 blocks. Balasore, Bhadrak, Jagatsinghpur and Kendrapara districts have been badly affected.

Expressing grief at the loss of lives and damage in West Bengal, Mr. Patnaik extended help to the neighbouring State and asked Chief Secretary Asit Tripathy to be in touch with his West Bengal counterpart.

An aerial view of a cyclone Amphan-hit area of coastal Odisha as seen from Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s helicopter. Photo: Special Arrangement

An aerial view of a cyclone Amphan-hit area of coastal Odisha as seen from Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s helicopter. Photo: Special Arrangement  

 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to make an aerial survey of the affected areas and review the situation in Bhubaneswar on Friday.

Earlier, Mr. Tripathy informed Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Guaba of the extent of damage.

According to preliminary reports received on Thursday morning, crops grown on over one lakh hectares have been lost. Around 86% of the mobile phone connectivity has been restored.

The Chief Secretary said 2,00,400 people were evacuated and kept in 3,228 cyclone shelters and other buildings. All fishermen were brought back from the sea. Around 22,050 fishing boats were berthed in safe places. About 210 medical teams and 75 veterinary teams were working in the affected areas.

Farmers in Bhadrak and Kendrapara districts are staring at an uncertain future as hundreds of acres of paddy land has been inundated by saline water. Farmers say the land is unfit for the upcoming kharif crop. “We have completed tilling and would have started sowing in a week, just before the arrival of monsoon. The saline ingression damaged the soil, which is no longer fit for paddy cultivation,” said Amulya Mandal of Chardia village in Chandbali.

Mr. Mandal said saline water spilled over from creeks and entered the paddy land with the storm surge. “The sluice gates connecting the creeks with the Baitarani and Matei rivers were poorly maintained. As a result, saline water easily found its way to the farmland,” he said.

Similarly, 500 acres in Mahakalapada and Rajanagar tahsils was affected by saline water ingression. Hundreds of acres of Rabi crop, ready for harvesting, has been damaged in Balasore and Bhadrak.

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Printable version | Jun 2, 2020 7:20:41 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kolkata/72-killed-in-cyclone-amphan-fury-15-dead-in-kolkata-alone/article31640766.ece

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