24 killed as Cyclone Amphan hits Bengal, Odisha and Bangladesh

Thursday 21st May 2020 06:01 EDT

At least 24 people were killed and over 3 million displaced by Cyclone Amphan barreled through India and Bangladesh, authorities said. The cyclone is one of the most powerful storms to hit south Asia ever. Amphan destroyed thousands of homes, uprooted trees and caused severe flooding. The Indian state of West Bengal and Odisha took the brunt of the storm that made landfall on Wednesday evening. Winds reached 185 km and the Indian city of Kolkata, home to 15 million people, saw severe damage to buildings, power outages and destruction of infrastructure. At least 12 people were killed in West Bengal alone, mostly due to collapsed walls and drowning, the state's chief minister Mamata Banerjee said.

"We are facing three crises: The coronavirus, the thousands of migrants who are returning home and now the cyclone," said Banjeree. "The situation is more worrying than the coronavirus pandemic. We don't know how to handle it," she added. She also pointed out that the full scale of the destruction was not yet known, as many islands in the Bay of Bengal were cut off from contact.

The storm crossed the border from India into Bangladesh where around a million people are without electricity and hundreds of villages are under water because of tidal surges. A dozen flood protection embankments have been breached. While 12 people have been killed in West Bengal, 10 deaths were reported in Bangladesh. Among those dead in Bangladesh are a five-year-old boy and a 75-year-old man, both hit by falling trees, and a cyclone emergency volunteer. Two other fatalities were reported in Odisha, including an infant crushed when the mud wall of the family’s hut collapsed in heavy rain.

Concerns were raised over the Bhasan Char island, where hundreds of Rohingya refugees are housed, and the world's largest refugee camp near Cox's Bazar in Bangladesh, where 1 million more live in cramped conditions. The hurricane is expected to lose speed later. Amphan was the first "super cyclone" to hit the Bay of Bengal since 1999, when 150,000 people died.

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