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Powerful cyclone hits India, Bangladesh, leaves 24 dead

Powerful Cyclone Hits India, Bangladesh, Leaves 24 Dead

KOLKATA, India – A powerful cyclone ripped through densely populated coastal India and Bangladesh, blowing down the roofs and whipping up waves that swallowed embankments and bridges and left entire villages without access to freshwater, electricity and communications.
On Thursday, at least 22 people were reportedly killed.
The cyclone weakened amid massive evacuations after slamming ashore on Wednesday evening. Officials warn that the coronavirus pandemic, which has already sapped the health-care system, will make relief and repair work harder.
Up to 10 people have died in low-lying Bangladesh while 12 deaths have been recorded in the Indian state of West Bengal.
Officials said two people died in the Bay of Bengal, in India’s Odisha state. Most of the deaths in both countries were due to the collapse of walls, drowning and falling trees.
“We’ve never seen or experienced anything like this before. Windows rattled, the house shook, while others collapsed, outside trees fire caught in. We thought we ‘d die,” Javed Khan, a Kolkata taxi driver, said via WhatsApp to AP.
Cyclone Amphan, the equivalent of a Category 3 hurricane, packs sustained winds of up to 170 kilometers (105 miles) per hour with 190 kph (118 mph) maximum gusts when it crashes ashore.
Even though it lost power as it moved towards Bangladesh, South Bengal’s densely populated regions bore the brunt of the onslaught with storm surges pushing inland seawater 25 kilometers (15 miles) and flooding towns including Kolkata.
In the wind the roof of a school building in Howrah, a Kolkata suburb, flew off. Lightning struck numerous coconut trees, and rising rivers overflew their banks.
Many parts of the state were forecast to have heavy rainfall in the coming week.
The cyclone will disrupt local wind circulation and also trigger heatwaves in parts of the country, Mrutyunjay Mohapatra, India’s meteorological chief said.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said on Wednesday night that immediate assessment of the damage was difficult. She said whole islands were cut off from the mainland, including the communities that live along the Sunderbans, one of the world’s largest mangrove forests.
The forests dissipate the storm ‘s energy and absorb some of the impact, said K.J Ramesh, India’s former chief meteorologist.
‘Crises Three’
Many century-old buildings were badly damaged in the West Bengal state capital of Kolkata, formerly known as Calcutta, Banerjee said.
“We face three crises: the coronavirus, the thousands of migrants coming home and now the cyclone,” she said.
According to the Ministry of Power, at least one million people in Bangladesh were without electricity.
Hundreds of villages over the vast coastal region have been submerged by a tidal surge, disaster response authorities said. About a dozen embankments have been breached for flood protection, it said.
(Sahar News Monitoring Desk)

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