72 Dead In Cyclone Amphan, Says Mamata Banerjee, Asks PM To Visit Bengal

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72 people have died in Bengal because of Cyclone Amphan, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said today after the powerful storm wrecked cities including Kolkata on Wednesday, destroying thousands of homes and uprooting trees and electric poles.

Ms Banerjee said the damage caused by Amphan is more than the coronavirus pandemic and that she had never seen such a disaster before. The chief minister has asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to visit the state and assess the situation. Ms Banerjee had last evening claimed damages due to the cyclone could be in the region of Rs 1 lakh crore.

“I have asked the PM to visit Sunderbans. In this hour or crisis, let us work together… Amit Shah called me this afternoon and assured the centre will extend full help,” Ms Banerjee said.

The PM has said the entire nation stands with Bengal and “no stone will be left unturned” to help those affected.

Bengal took the brunt of Cyclone Amphan, which barrelled into the coast with gusting winds of up to 185 km per hour. Strong winds with speed up to 125 kmph per hour upturned cars in Kolkata and left trees and electricity poles torn off and blocking roads. Portions of several battered buildings came crashing down in Kolkata. The Kolkata airport, which had been shut, was left flooded and many structures within damaged.

The cyclone also ripped through the coastal districts of North and South 24 Paraganas of Bengal with heavy rain and windstorm, blowing away thatched houses, uprooting trees, electric poles and flooding low lying areas. 

“Sarbanash hoye galo (It is a catastrophe)…Communications are disrupted,” said Mamata Banerjee yesterday, who remained in her office during the storm, adding that although 5 lakh people had been evacuated, state authorities had not entirely anticipated the ferocity of the storm. With rains continuing, she said the hardest hits areas were not immediately accessible. The Chief Minister also used the word “tandav (dance of fury)” to describe the impact of the storm.

Cyclone Amphan is only the second “super cyclone” to form over the Bay of Bengal since records began, and the first since 1999. Odisha was hit by a super cyclone that left nearly 10,000 dead in 1999.

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