Cyclone Amphan Causes Heavy Destruction in East India and Bangladesh
Cyclone Amphan, one of the strongest cyclones in decades, slammed into Bangladesh and eastern part of India on May 20. The cyclone accompanied with ferocious winds and rain that led water coming inland, leaving behind destruction of properties with fatalities standing around 22 across India and Bangladesh.
Indian state West Bengal’s Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee told reporters that the situation is “more worrying than the coronavirus”.
“We don’t know how to handle it. Almost everything is destroyed in the coastal villages of the state,” she said.
The cyclone Amphan consisted of high velocity winds and pinching rains; government authorities acted rapidly to evacuate more than three million people from high risk areas. The entire calamity has made the social distancing norms difficult to follow, igniting the risk of coronavirus spreading fiercely.
Around 14 million people in Kolkata and other nearby areas were without electricity. Network connectivity has also been severely affected in some low areas. Local residents have shared visuals including electricity transformers exploding in busy areas as the storm passed. They have also reported the devastated effects of the storm around them.
“Trees uprooted, power supply snapped, lamp posts unhinged, glass panels are shattered, connectivity ruined and children got scared,” a local resident said.
The whole incident has increased the risk of a hike in already surging number of COVID-19 cases. As of now, India has around 112,442 positive cases and Bangladesh has around 26,738. Authorities have been quick to plan and prepare for extreme weather conditions. Loreta Hieber Girardet, the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction’s chief for the Asia-Pacific region, said, “They’ve been adapting early warning messaging so that it would include information on physical distancing and preventive behaviour.”
India evacuated more than 65,000 in West Bengal and Odisha. Neighbouring Bangladesh’s junior minister, Enamur Rahman, stated that around 2.4 million people and livestock exceeding half a million were brought to shelters.
Low-area coasts of Bangladesh alongside with India’s east are frequently shattered by cyclones, the coast is home to around 30 million people, and have taken numerous lives in recent decades. Cyclone Amphan is the first super cyclone formed in Bay of Bengal since 1999. Although environment analysts have said the winds have now weakened, it is still considered as a drastic cyclone. The 1999 super cyclone killed around 10,000 people in Odisha, tornados and flooding have taken 139,000 lives in Bangladesh.
The authorities are now in move to analyse the estimated losses, rushing to ensure adequate food supplies are available in the region; telecommunication and electricity are restored in all the affected regions. But, major damages have been reported to agriculture, power and telecommunication facilities in West Bengal.
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