More than 100 people dead, millions affected by Tropical Cyclone "Amphan" in India and Bangladesh

More than 100 people dead, millions affected by Tropical Cyclone

Tropical Cyclone "Amphan" has left more than more than 100 people dead and thousands more homeless in India and Bangladesh after it made landfall on May 20, 2020. The storm left a path of destruction in both of the countries' coastal areas, affecting millions of people. Significant damage has been reported in residential properties, crops, fisheries, horticulture, and power and telecommunication facilities. Amphan is the first named storm of the 2020 North Indian Ocean cyclone season and the first super cyclonic storm in the Bay of Bengal since the 1999 Odisha cyclone. 2020 is the second year in a row featuring a super cyclonic storm, the previous year seeing Kyarr in the Arabian Sea.

In India, the storm was considered the strongest to hit the West Bengal region in more than a decade. As of Friday, May 22, the death toll has reached 88, of which 19 in Kolkata alone and three in Odisha, with most due to collapsed houses or electrocution. 

Storm surge as high as 5 m (16 feet) inundated a wide swath of coastal communities, affecting power and communications. Vehicles were overturned and about 5 000 trees uprooted.

Across the region, about 88 000 ha (217 000 acres) of rice paddies have been badly hit, as well as roughly 200 000 ha (500 000 acres) of vegetable and sesame crops.

According to the government, the estimated losses in the state alone has hit 13.2 billion dollars. Odisha also reported significant impacts, including 65 electrical substations affected, leaving almost 2 million without electricity. 

Severe coastal erosion occurred in the country's southern suburb of Thiruvananthapuram, resulting in damaged roads and destroying homes. Strong winds inflicted major damage in the district of Kottayam, especially in Vaikom taluk, where homes and temples were downed, as well as trees and electric poles.

Damages amount to almost 19.3 million dollars, including the destruction of 16 homes and 313 partially hit houses. A high school used as a shelter also collapsed, causing minor injuries. Hundreds of boats anchored in the Ramanathapuram district were damaged as well. 

"I have never seen such disaster," said West Bengal state minister Mamata Banerjee. "All areas have faced destruction. Nothing is left."

Authorities are now racing to provide relief assistance, particularly in communities already suffering from the COVID-19 pandemic. On Friday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a relief package for West Bengal and Odisha, which includes financial aid.

In the neighboring country of Bangladesh, 26 fatalities have been reported. Among the casualties was Cyclone Preparedness Program leader Shah Alam, who drowned after his boat capsized.

Damaging effects began in the nation prior to the cyclone's landfall as coastal water levels increased. Collapsed embankments flooded 17 villages across Galachipa, Kalapara, and Rangabali. At least 500 residential areas were destroyed on an island within the district of Noakhali.

Around 3 000 shrimp and crab farms were ravaged by severe floods. Power outages disrupted electricity to more than 10 million. In Purba Durgabati, 600 houses were inundated by floodwaters up to 4 m (13 feet).

Officials fear that Amphan may be the deadliest storm since 2006 Cyclone "Sidr", which claimed about 3 500 lives. Furthermore, the government said damages may amount to 1.5 billion dollars-- preliminary damage across the nation has so far reached 130 million dollars.

Light to moderate rain with isolated thunderstorms accompanied by strong winds are forecast across northeastern India, eastern, northern, and northeastern Bangladesh. 

The Acute Large Emergency Response Tool (ALERT) has allocated around 1.6 million dollars to respond to the humanitarian needs in both India and Bangladesh. About 109 000 dollars replenishment was also decided for a forecast-based triggered action by the IFRC Red Crescent Society Bangladesh.

Featured image credit: Bangladesh Red Crescent Society

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