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Cyclone Amphan compounds India’s, Bangladesh’s miseries despite COVID-19

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INDIA’S eastern coast yesterday witnessed huge devastation with thousands of people rendered homeless in the wake of Cyclone Amphan hitting communities already burdened by coronavirus pandemic.

  Amphan, which was the most powerful cyclone ever recorded in the Bay of Bengal before it weakened, ripped apart homes, tore down trees, washed away bridges and left large predominately rural areas without power or communications while authorities battle to send relief to the affected areas.

  The state of West Bengal’s Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said at least 12 people have been reported dead as at Wednesday in eastern India, with one young girl in the Howrah district killed after a wall collapsed inside her home.

  Large-scale evacuation efforts throughout India and neighboring Bangladesh appear to have saved many lives, but it could take days to realise the full extent of deaths, injuries and damage from the cyclone. Fallen debris has made many of the roads inaccessible and heavy rains continue to fall on hard-hit areas.

  Director-general of India’s National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF), S.N. Pradhan, said the worst of the damage is concentrated in two of West Bengal’s coastal districts and that the Sunderbans had been “pulverized” by the cyclone.

  At least 72 people died in West Bengal State, including 15 in the city of Kolkata, the state’s Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said yesterday. Among them was a young girl killed after a wall collapsed inside her home in Howrah district.

  “I have never seen such disaster,” Banerjee told reporters. “All areas have faced destruction. Nothing is left.”

  In a related development, about 10 people have been confirmed dead in neighboring Bangladesh, according to the governmental Health Emergency Operations Center.

  Among those killed was a 57-year-old Red Crescent volunteer in Barisal who drowned when attempting to help others to safety, the Red Crescent Society of Bangladesh said.

  Disaster teams worked throughout the night and into Thursday morning in India’s West Bengal and Odisha states, clearing trees and other debris from roads.

  “The entire nation stands in solidarity with West Bengal,” he wrote. “My thoughts are with the people of Odisha as the state bravely battles the effects of Cyclone Amphan.” according to an official at the Bangladesh Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief, Ranjit Kumar Sen.

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