Seventy-two people have died due to Super Cyclonic Storm Amphan in West Bengal, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said in a briefing today. Banerjee has announced a compensation of Rs 2,50,000 to the kin of the deceased and has asked Primer Minister Narendra Modi to come and see the destruction caused by the cyclone and provide help to rebuild the affected areas.
Of the 72 dead, 15 are from Kolkata, 17 from North 24 Parganas and four in the Sundarbans region. Banerjee has directed all department chiefs to submit a report on the impact of Cyclone Amphan within seven days.
Cyclone Amphan recorded wind speeds of 155-165 km/hr gusting to 185 km/hr. The Indian Meteorological Department chief Mrityunjay Mohapatra said that Kolkata witnessed gale winds with a wind speed of 130 km/hr. Alipore received 24cm of rainfall and Dum Dum received 20cm of rainfall putting them in the extremely heavy rainfall zones.
The Weather Channel reports that Digha received 89.6mm rainfall from Wednesday morning to Thursday morning. Paradip port and Baripada in Odisha recorded 89 mm and 87mm rainfall respectively. Shillong in Meghalaya received 86.4mm of rainfall on Wednesday.
According to NDTV, CM Mamata Banerjee said that the impact of Amphan has been worse than the COVID-19 crisis and she estimated the damage done by the super cyclone could well be close to Rs. One lakh crore.
National Disaster Response Force Chief SN Pradhan said more than 5 lakh people in West Bengal and 2,37,296 people in Odisha had been evacuated in the wake of Amphan. Evacuation and rescue efforts proved to be more challenging with social distancing norms in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The super cyclone has caused massive loss of property with electric and telephone poles being uprooted, causing power loss and cutting off vast areas of West Bengal. Trees have been blown away collapsing on houses and blocking crucial roads. The districts of North 24 Pargana and South 24 Pargana have been the worst affected. In North 24 Parganas alone, 5,500 houses have been reportedly destroyed and nine people died. Four additional battalions of the NDRF are being airlifted to Kolkata to help with rescue works.
Kolkata witnessed heavy flooding with the city being plunged to darkness due to erupting transformers. Images from the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International airport showed the tarmac submerged in water with two hangars being damaged beyond repair. According to Pradhan, the Civil Aviation secretary had assured that the airport will be functional by Thursday.
While West Bengal has borne the brunt of the cyclone, Odisha escaped with no major damage according to Pradhan. 90% of power and telecom services in Odisha in impacted districts are working with officials expecting things to go back to normal within a day.
According to the Indian Meteorological Department, Amphan has weakened into a Cyclonic Storm and was centred over Bangladesh in the morning. It is expected to move north-northeastwards and eventually weaken into a depression.
Light to moderate rainfall is expected in most places in Assam, Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh. Isolated places in these states might also witness very heavy to extremely heavy rainfall. Winds with speed of 50 to 60 km/hr gusting to 70 km/hr is expected in Western Assam and Western Meghalaya.