Cyclone Amphan, which battered West Bengal, has left at least 72 people dead across the State, including 15 in Kolkata, and damaged public property of over ₹100,000 crore.
One of the worst-ever natural disasters in recent times, Cyclone Amphan left a trail of devastation across four major districts — Purba Medinipur, North 24 Parganas, South 24 Parganas and the State capital of Kolkata.
Howrah and Hooghly also took a hit.
It has compounded the crisis of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
Calling the situation “grim”, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said the cyclone has caused “unthinkable damage”.
Banerjee in a Facebook Live session on Wednesday night said: “It is a devastation I have not seen in my lifetime. I am shocked. Nearly 99 per cent of South 24 Parganas — one of the distircts where the cyclone hit – has been wiped out. The damage to the State is worse than coronavirus.”
Communication across districts have been cut-off and details on damage are being ascertained.
Bengal had carried out a massive evacuation exercise with nearly 5 lakh people moved away from coastal areas.
“We have to rebuild everything,” the Chief Minister said adding that “Bengal has borne the brunt of the cyclone.”
Cyclone ‘Amphan’ batters Bengal, Odisha as 6.5 lakh evacuated, 2 dead
The cyclone was due to pass between Digha and Bangladesh, and made a landfall 100 kms south of Kolkata. Some of the districts saw windspeeds of nearly 155-165 km an hour, while Kolkata experienced windspeeds of close to 130 km/hr.
Kolkata badly hit
The capital city remains amongst the worst hit. At least 1,200 trees have been uprooted across different thoroughfares and in localities causing immense damage to life and property. Power outages too have been reported from across the city, even as the civic administration continues to battle water-logging.
This is perhaps the first time since 1737 that a cyclonic storm passed through Kolkata, say experts.
The last time the city was majorly affected by a cyclone was when it was hit by the “the tail” of Aila in 2009. Even during last year’s Cyclone Bulbul, the city was saved from any major damage.
Seeks Central help
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee called the cyclone a humanitarian crises and has sought “assistance from the Centre” in rebuilding the state.
She even requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to visit the affected districts.
“I hope they see this as a humanitarian crises and help us out, rather than politicising the situation,” the Chief Minister said.
Earlier in the day, Prime Minister, Narendra Modi tweeted, “Have been seeing visuals from West Bengal on the devastation caused by Cyclone Amphan. In this challenging hour, the entire nation stands in solidarity with West Bengal.”