In Kolkata, howling winds - easily above 100 kmph - could be heard throughout Wednesday evening
- Over five lakh people have been taken to shelters in West Bengal
- Cyclone Amphan is one of the worst storms over the Bay of Bengal in years
- Kolkata airport has been shut till 5 am Thursday
Cyclone Amphan, one of the worst storms over the Bay of Bengal in years, pounded Bengal and Odisha on Wednesday, destroying thousands of houses, damaging buildings, uprooting trees, electricity poles and killing at 10 to 12 people in Bengal. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said the impact of Amphan was worse than the coronavirus pandemic and claimed damages due to the cyclone could be in the region of Rs 1 lakh crore. The cyclone, whose eye was about 30 kilometre in diameter, made landfall with gusting winds of up to 185 kmph and waves about 15 feet tall. Over five lakh people had been taken to shelters in West Bengal and over one lakh in Odisha.
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Ms Banerjee, addressing a press conference in Kolkata, said three people have died in the state, but that the number may rise to about 12. She said North and South 24 Parganas districts were the worst hit and that Bengal "will have to rebuild everything".
A man and a woman died in 24 North Parganas after trees fell on them due to the strong winds. In nearby Howrah district, a 13-year-old girl also died when a tree fell on her.
Around 5,500 houses were damaged in 24 North Parganas. "Five thousand and five hundred houses damaged, two persons dead and two severely injured in North 24 Parganas," said a 7 pm report by Bibek Vasme, Sub-Divisional Officer (SDO) Basirhat, news agency ANI reported. Power supply had been cut in both North and South 24 Parganas.
In Kolkata, howling winds - easily above 100 kmph - could be heard throughout Wednesday evening and many buildings were damaged. Parts of the city plunged into darkness with no electricity for most of the evening. The streets were waterlogged and trees uprooted.
Videos on social media showed how parked cars bumped into each other at a south Kolkata highrise, trees ripped out of the ground, and a blast in an electrical transformer.
Amphan crossed the Bengal-Bangladesh coasts on Wednesday evening with the speed of 155-160 kmph gusting to 185 kmph across the Sunderbans, the Met department said.
Amphan had weakened from a super cyclone to an "extremely severe cyclonic storm" on Tuesday, causing strong winds and heavy rain in parts of Odisha and Bengal as it advanced towards the Indian coast.
National Disaster Response Force chief SN Pradhan said the storm is "a double challenge" for the country amid fight against coronavirus. "Forty-one teams of NDRF are on duty. Evacuating people is a double challenge. We have to ensure social distancing during these operations," Mr Pradhan told NDTV.
In Kolkata, the airport has been shut till 5 am Thursday after the city, close to the coast, was put on alert. Visuals showed strong winds and winds battering coastal parts including Paradip in Odisha and South 24 Paraganas in Bengal. Seven districts in Bengal faced the direct impact of the cyclone.
"Amphan", pronounced as "Um-pun", means sky. The name was given by Thailand in 2004, years ago. The storm is being constantly tracked by Doppler Weather Radar at Vishakhapatnam.
With inputs from Reuters and ANIPost a comment