26 killed as 'super cyclone' ravages Bangladesh, India

At least 108 people have so far been died till today as the fiercest cyclone to hit parts of Bangladesh and eastern India this century sent trees flying and flattened houses, with millions crammed into shelters despite the risk of coronavirus.
At least 82 killed and thousands of houses destroyed and millions without power as Cyclone Amphan batters the region and another 26 died today
The most powerful cyclone to strike eastern India and Bangladesh in about 20 years has killed at least 82 people, officials said, as rescue teams scoured devastated coastal villages, hampered by torn down power lines and flooding over large tracts of land.
In the Indian state of West Bengal, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said on Thursday that at least 72 people had perished - most of them either electrocuted or killed by trees uprooted by winds that gusted up to 185km per hour (115 miles/h). In neighbouring Bangladesh, the initial toll was put at 10.
Millions were left without power after Cyclone Amphan, packing winds of around 150 kilometres per hour, carried away electricity pylons, walls and roofs, officials said on Thursday as they began to assess the damage.
Residents in the Indian city of Kolkata, the capital of the hard-hit West Bengal state, awoke to flooded streets with some cars window-deep in water and television footage showed the airport inundated.
"The impact of Amphan is worse than coronavirus," Mamata Banerjee, chief minister of West Bengal, told local media, saying that at least 12 people had died in the state. Mass evacuations organised by authorities before Cyclone Amphan made landfall undoubtedly saved countless lives, but the full extent of the casualties and damage to property would only be known once communications were restored, officials said.
Millions across India and Bangladesh were left without power.
Residents in the Indian city of Kolkata, the capital of the hard-hit West Bengal state, awoke to flooded streets with some cars window-deep in water. Television footage showed the airport inundated.
"Thousands of mud huts have been levelled, trees uprooted, roads washed away and crops destroyed," she said.


A woman looks at what is left of her home after Cyclone Amphan hit Satkhira district in Bangladesh. — AFP
A woman looks at what is left of her home after Cyclone Amphan hit Satkhira district in Bangladesh. — 

Bangladesh officials said at least 10 people had died, including a five-year-old boy and a 75-year-old man both hit by falling trees and a cyclone emergency volunteer who drowned.
Officials said they were waiting for reports from the Sundarbans, a UNESCO World Heritage site famed for its mangrove forest and population of endangered Bengal tigers, which bore the brunt of the storm.
"We still haven't got the actual picture of the damage. We are particularly concerned over some wild animals. They can be washed away during a storm surge in high tide," forest chief Moyeen Uddin Khan told AFP.
Cyclones are an annual and growing hazard along the Bay of Bengal coast, claiming the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in recent decades.
But in recent years, despite an increase in their frequency blamed partly on climate change, improved warning systems have enabled authorities to be much better prepared.

'Massive destruction'

The cyclone was weakening as it moved northwards through Bangladesh but still unleashed heavy rains and fierce winds in Cox's Bazar, the district which houses about one million Rohingya refugees from violence in Myanmar.


Authorities were using extra shelter space to reduce crowding to protect people from coronavirus infection. — AFP
Authorities were using extra shelter space to reduce crowding to protect people from coronavirus infection. — AFP

Amphan was the first "super cyclone" to form over the Bay of Bengal since 1999, and packed winds gusting up to 185 kph at sea.
It brought a storm surge — a wall of ocean water that is often one of the main killers in major weather systems — that roared inland.
Anwar Hossain Howlader, an official in the Khulna coastal district of Bangladesh, said a three-metre (10-feet) surge had destroyed embankments protecting villages despite locals toiling through the night.


Storm surge. — AFP
Storm surge. — AFP

"It caused massive destruction. Thousands of trees have been uprooted. Embankments have broken down at many places, inundating many villages. The damage and destruction of crops and fish farms have been huge," he said.
At the village of Purba Durgabati in Satkhira district, hundreds of villagers spend the night trying to mend a breach in the embankment that protected several villages from the Kholpetua river.
But the surge unleashed by the cyclone washed away some two kilometres of the embankment, which also doubled as a village road. As a result sea water inundated some 600 homes and washed away thousands of shrimp and crab farms.
"My home has gone under water. My shrimp farm is gone. I don't know how I am going to survive," Omar Faruq, 28, told AFP.

Virus complications

The last super cyclone in 1999 left nearly 10,000 dead in India's Odisha state, eight years after a typhoon, tornadoes and flooding killed 139,000 in Bangladesh.
In 1970, half a million perished.
More than three million people were evacuated from coastal villages in both countries.
Because of coronavirus, authorities said they used extra shelter space to reduce crowding, while making face masks compulsory and setting aside isolation rooms.
But many stayed put. Sulata Munda, a villager in Bangladesh on the edge of the Sundarbans, said she and fellow villagers decided not to go to a shelter.
"We fear the cyclone but we also fear the coronavirus," the mother of four said.

'Everything is destroyed'

In neighbouring Bangladesh, officials said 10 people had died, including a five-year-old boy and a 75-year-old man who were hit by falling trees, and a cyclone emergency volunteer who drowned.
The United Nations office in Bangladesh estimates 10 million people were affected, and some 500,000 people may have lost their homes.
"I have never seen such a cyclone in my life. It seemed like the end of the world. All I could do was to pray ... Almighty Allah saved us," Azgar Ali, 49, a resident of Satkhira district on the Bangladesh coast told Reuters news agency.
Al Jazeera's Tanvir Chowdhury, reporting from the capital Dhaka, said the cyclone "was one of the most intense in a decade" to hit Bangladesh, with authorities expecting losses of more than $1bn.
"Five million people are without power. There has been heavy damage, especially in southwestern Bangladesh in the Sundarbans mangrove forest which got the direct hit ... thousands of houses have been washed away due to the tidal surge," Chowdhury said.
"People are definitely going to lose croplands and fisheries. That area is known for shrimp culture and other aquaculture, so these people are going to lose their livelihood."
Bangladesh officials said they were waiting for reports from the Sundarbans, a UNESCO World Heritage Site famed for its mangrove forest and population of endangered Bengal tigers.

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South Punjab News : 26 killed as 'super cyclone' ravages Bangladesh, India
26 killed as 'super cyclone' ravages Bangladesh, India
"The impact of Amphan is worse than coronavirus," Mamata Banerjee, chief minister of West Bengal, told local media, saying that at least 12 people had died in the state
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South Punjab News
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