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May 22, 2020

Cyclone Amphan kills 95 in India, Bangladesh

Top Story

May 22, 2020

KOLKATA/DHAKA: The most powerful cyclone to strike eastern India and Bangladesh in over a decade killed at least 95 people, officials said, as rescue teams scoured devastated coastal villages on Thursday, hampered by torn down power lines and widespread flooding.

Mass evacuations before Cyclone Amphan made landfall undoubtedly saved countless lives, but the full extent of the casualties and damage will only be known once communications are restored, officials said.

Many parts of the Indian metropolis of Kolkata, home to more than 14 million people, were under water, and its airport was closed briefly by flooding. Roads were littered with uprooted trees and lamp posts, electricity and communication lines were down and centuries-old buildings were damaged.

In the Indian state of West Bengal, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said at least 72 people had perished - most of them either electrocuted or killed by trees uprooted by winds gusting up to 185km per hour.

She said the storm had carved a 400-km long swathe through the state and announced a Rs10 billion ($130 million) emergency fund to rebuild roads, water and health systems. “These areas have been devastated,” she said, reported foreign media.

In neighbouring Bangladesh, the initial death toll was put at 10. “I have never seen such a cyclone in my life. It seemed like the end of the world,” said Azgar Ali, 49, a resident of Satkhira district on the Bangladeshi coast. “All I could do was to pray ... Almighty Allah saved us.”

When the cyclone barrelled in from the Bay of Bengal on Wednesday, a storm surge of around five metres caused flooding across low-lying coastal areas.

Television footage showed people wading through knee-deep water and buses that had been smashed into each other. Villagers could be seen trying to lift fallen electricity poles, fishermen hauling their boats out of a choppy sea, and uprooted trees lying strewn across the countryside.