The biggest cyclonic storm over the Bay of Bengal in two decades wrecked havoc along India’s east coast and in Bangladesh, killing dozens of people, flooding low-lying areas and affecting power supply.
Amphan was likely to continue to move north-northeastward and weaken further into a depression on Thursday, according to the India Meteorological Department. The storm, which started as a category 5 hurricane and made landfall on May 20, will carry sustained wind speeds of 30 to 40 kilometres per hour, which may rise to 50 kilometres per hour, it said.
As many as 72 people were killed in the Indian state of West Bengal, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said. In Bangladesh, at least 12 people lost their lives, private broadcaster Somoy TV reported. The cyclone snapped power supply to about 5.5 million homes and caused tidal surges, flooding homes and some coastal areas, according to the report. “I have never seen anything like this in my life,” Banerjee said. “Electricity and water supply is disconnected. Crops have been damaged. Many areas have been destroyed. We have lost communication.”
The storm had prompted Bangladesh to evacuate about 2.4 million to storm shelters, India’s West Bengal moved 500,000 people, while the eastern state of Odisha shifted 200,000 people. There are concerns that coronavirus infections may rise in cyclone shelters as people don’t have enough masks and social distancing rules are not strictly being followed at many places.
“Disasters wreak havoc on fighting of a pandemic” as all attention and resources shift to relief operations, said Bhubaneswar-based Bhuputra Panda, associate professor with Public Health Foundation of India.