KOLKATA/DHAKA: The most powerful cyclone to strike eastern India and Bangladesh in over a decade killed at least 82 people, officials said, as rescue teams scoured devastated coastal villages yesterday, hampered by torn down power lines and widespread flooding.
Mass evacuations before Cyclone Amphan made landfall undoubtedly saved countless lives, but the full extent of the casualties and damage will only be known once communications are restored, officials said.
In the Indian state of West Bengal, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said at least 72 people had perished – most of them either electrocuted or killed by trees uprooted by winds gusting up to 185 km per hour (115 mph).
She said the storm had carved a 400-km long swathe through the state and announced a 10 billion rupee ($130 million) emergency fund to rebuild roads, water and health systems. “These areas have been devastated,” she said. In neighbouring Bangladesh, the initial death toll was put at 10.
“I have never seen such a cyclone in my life. It seemed like the end of the world,” said Azgar Ali, 49, a resident of Satkhira district on the Bangladeshi coast. “All I could do was to pray … Almighty Allah saved us.” When the cyclone barrelled in from the Bay of Bengal on Wednesday, a storm surge of around five metres caused flooding across low-lying coastal areas. —Agencies