Thu | Jul 2, 2020

Recovery begins after Cyclone Amphan ravages communities

Published:Monday | May 25, 2020 | 12:06 AM

NEW DELHI (AP):

AUTHORITIES BEGAN clearing roads and assessing damage last Friday after Cyclone Amphan barrelled through coastal communities in eastern India and neighbouring Bangladesh, killing more than 100 people and leaving millions displaced.

In India’s West Bengal state, which bore the brunt of the storm that caused extensive flooding in its capital Kolkata, police and disaster response teams removed fallen trees and other debris, repaired communication lines, and began moving hundreds of thousands of people out of shelters.

Amphan hit land on Wednesday May 20, as the most powerful storm in the region in more than a decade, dumping heavy rain amid a battering storm surge.

NATIONAL DISASTER

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said the cyclone should be treated as a national disaster and appealed for assistance from the federal government.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi surveyed the worst-hit areas of West Bengal and neighbouring Odisha state by air.

It was Modi’s first trip outside the national capital after imposing a coronavirus lockdown in late March.

“The country is already going through a crisis, and during that time we have to deal with a cyclone,” Modi said in West Bengal.

He announced a $195-million relief fund for the two storm-battered states.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres expressed “solidarity with the people of India and Bangladesh as they face the impact of a devastating cyclone, while also responding to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said. “The United Nations stands ready to support these efforts.”

The cyclone has raised fears it could exacerbate the spread of the coronavirus in overcrowded emergency shelters.