Kerala Kaumudi Online
Friday, 27 November 2020 5.38 PM IST

Amphan: Loss of one lakh crore in Bengal, Mamata seeks central aid


KOLKATA: Cyclone Amphan, one of the worst storms over the Bay of Bengal in years, has killed 12 people in West Bengal, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said. The powerful cyclone destroyed thousands of homes, leaving authorities struggling to mount relief efforts amid the coronavirus crisis. Bengal took the brunt of Cyclone Amphan, which barrelled into the coast with gusting winds of up to 185 km per hour. Banerjee said the impact of Amphan was worse than the coronavirus pandemic and claimed damages due to the cyclone could be in the region of Rs 1 lakh crore. Over five lakh people had been taken to shelters in Bengal and over one lakh in Odisha.

“The losses will be at three levels - loss to life and property because the storm was tremendous; loss to basic infrastructure, which will take months to leap back to normalcy, and thirdly, loss to livelihoods due to saline water intrusion and large-scale inundation. I have received reports of embankment breaks from Sagar Island, Ramganga, Hingalganj and a few other places. Many embankments are seeing overtopping of water because the rivers have swelled up, these will break in days,” said Tuhin Ghosh, director of the School of Oceanographic Studies at Jadavpur University. In neighbouring Odisha, at least two deaths were reported till Wednesday night. A two-month-old baby was killed in a wall collapse in the morning after heavy overnight rains in Bhadrak district. In another incident, a woman died in Balasore after an electric pole, uprooted by the storm, fell on her.

In Bangladesh, officials confirmed six deaths including a five-year-old boy and a 75-year-old man, both hit by falling trees, and a cyclone emergency volunteer who drowned.

Some three million people were left without power, Bangladesh officials said.

About 224.6 millimetres (0.7 feet) of rain fell from early Wednesday and winds up to 113 kmph (70 mph) lashed Kolkata, the capital of West Bengal.

Video shared on social media showed electricity transformers sparking and exploding in the wild weather. Some reports said that 5,500 houses were damaged in one West Bengal district.

The cyclone is expected to weaken as it moves north and northeast, and recede to a tropical depression by Thursday afternoon, the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) said.

In south-western Bangladesh, a five-feet-high storm surge broke an embankment and swamped farmland.

Bangladesh officials were particularly concerned about the damage to the Sunderbans, a UNESCO world heritage site famed for its mangrove forest and tiger population, which they said bore the brunt of the cyclone.

Houses “look like they have been run over by a bulldozer”, said Babul Mondal, 35, a villager on the edge of the Indian side of the Sunderbans.

The 1999 super cyclone left nearly 10,000 dead in Odisha, eight years after a typhoon, tornadoes and flooding killed 139,000 in Bangladesh.

In 1970, half a million perished due to Cyclone Bhola.

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