Cyclone Amphan leaves behind trail of destruction in India, Bangladesh

Cyclone Amphan, which barrelled through Odisha and West Bengal on Wednesday, has killed 24 people.

The storm began its landfall at 2:30 pm on Wednesday, with sustained wind speeds of 155-165 kmph spiralling up to 185 kmph. The storm weakened as it moved ahead and is currently centred over Bangladesh.

While 12 people have been killed in West Bengal, news agency Associated Press reported 10 deaths in neighbouring 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 who drowned.

Two other fatalities were reported in Odisha, including an infant crushed when the mud wall of the family’s hut collapsed in heavy rain.

“The super cyclonic storm ‘Amphan’ moved north northeastwards with a speed of 27 kmph during past 6 hours, further weakened into a cyclonic storm and lay centred today at 5.30 am over Bangladesh near Lat. 24.7°N and Long. 89.5°E about 270 km north-northeast of Kolkata, 150 km south of Dhubri and 110 km south-southeast of Rangpur (Bangladesh),” the Indian Meteorological Department said in its bulletin on Thursday morning.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said on Wednesday night that the damage was difficult to assess immediately, pointing out that entire islands had been cut off from the mainland and many areas were left without electricity or phone connectivity.

“We are facing three crises: the coronavirus, the thousands of migrants who are returning home and now the cyclone,” said Banerjee.

In Bangladesh, at least a million people are without electricity, according to the Ministry of Power.

Amphan is the strongest cyclone to have originated from the Bay of Bengal in decades. High winds and torrid rains triggered by the cyclone’s movement pounded villages and cities in coatal Odisha and West Bengal, bringing down power lines, uprooting trees and inundating homes.

Amphan is a Thai name that means sky.

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