As India continues to enforce lockdown because of the pandemic another disaster has hit the country as the city of Kolkata has been devastated by a powerful cyclone which has killed at least 22 people across India and Bangladesh.
Storm Amphan struck land on Wednesday, lashing coastal areas with very strong winds and rain. The storm is now weakening as it moves north of the country into Bhutan.
Cyclone Amphan Ravages through Kolkata
Thousands of trees were uprooted in the gales, electricity and telephone lines brought down and houses flattened as one of the biggest storms hit the city of Kolkata. Many of Kolkata’s roads are flooded and its 14 million people without power.
The storm is the first super cyclone to form in the Bay of Bengal since 1999. Though its winds had weakened by the time it struck, it was still classified as a very severe cyclone.
Coronavirus restrictions have been hindering emergency and relief efforts. Covid-19 and social-distancing measures made mass evacuations more difficult, with shelters unable to be used to full capacity.
Amphan began hitting the Sundarbans, a mangrove area around the India-Bangladesh border home to four million people on Wednesday afternoon, before carving north and north-eastwards towards Kolkata, a historic city that was the capital of the British Raj.
Parts of West Bengal and Orissa (Odisha) states in India, and areas in south-west Bangladesh, bore the brunt, with winds gusting up to 185km/h (115mph).
At least 10 deaths in Bangladesh and 12 in India’s West Bengal state have so far been confirmed by the authorities bringing the total to 22 deaths as per the time of report.
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee said the devastation in Kolkata, the state capital, was “a bigger disaster than Covid-19”.
“Area after area has been ruined,” Ms Banerjee was quoted as saying by the Press Trust of India news agency. “I have experienced a war-like situation today.”
“Trees uprooted, power supply snapped, lamp posts unhinged, glass panes in the locality shattered, internet connections flickered. Children screamed,” resident Shamik Bag told the BBC.
“Even with all doors and windows tightly shut, my house groaned under the pressure of the howling wind outside. Within 45 minutes, the streets outside got flooded, even as flood waters rushed into the ground floor of homes.
“When the power lines were restored after the storm, neighbourhood children, much like our own childhood when power-cuts were rampant, burst out in a spontaneous, cheerful chorus.”
Also read: Italy and Spain Finally Ease Down Lockdown
Author: Moses Echodu
Moses is a freelance writer for Newslibre and Programs Manager at the Craft Silicon Foundation. He loves writing about sports, politics and news around the globe and Inspiring new young people!!