Bengal cyclone toll 77, power restored
West Bengal

Bengal cyclone toll 77, power restored

S. Sivadas

S. Sivadas

The death toll due to cyclone Amphan in West Bengal has risen to 77 as authorities are busy restoring the normal life thrown out of gear by the region's worst weather disasters.

The Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi, has left for West Bengal and Odisha to take stock of the situation in the wake of the cyclone wreaking havoc in both states.

Five more bodies were recovered from the debris since Thursday night in various parts of West Bengal, raising the toll in the state to 77, officials said.

Lakhs were rendered homeless as cyclone Amphan cut through half a dozen districts of West Bengal, including state capital Kolkata, on Wednesday night, blowing away shanties, uprooting thousands of trees besides swamping low-lying areas.

Although electricity and the mobile connection was restored in some parts of the state capital and North and South 24 Parganas, two worst-hit districts, large parts of the city continued to remain without electricity as power poles had been blown away and communication lines snapped.

Mr. Modi will undertake an aerial survey of 'cyclone-hit' areas in West Bengal along with the Chief Minister,Ms. Mamata Banerjee, official sources said.

'He will conduct aerial surveys and take part in review meetings, where aspects of relief and rehabilitation will be discussed,' the PMO said in a tweet.

According to TMC sources, the chief minister is likely to demand a financial package for the state.

'During COVID-19 situation, the states got nothing. We hope due to this cyclone, the Central Government would leave aside politics and would extend all sorts of help to rebuild the state,' a senior TMC leader said.

Ms. Banerjee on Thursday had announced a compensation of Rs 2 lakh each for the family members of the deceased and a corpus fund of Rs 1,000 crore for preliminary restoration work of the affected areas.

The total number of fatalities reported includes 19 from Kolkata, 17 from North 24 Parganas, 14 from the South 24 Parganas-Sundarban region and 10 from Basirhat, officials said.

Several relief camps have come up in the districts, where people have queued up for two square meals and shelter after their homes were blown or washed away.

Teams of the NDRF and the State Disaster Relief Force (SDRF) have been working on a war-footing to clear the roads blocked by the falling trees.

More than 5,000 trees, along with a few hundred electric posts, traffic signals and police kiosks have been uprooted in and around Kolkata, said a KMC official.

'Thousands of trees have been removed so far. But still, there is a lot more to be done. We are hopeful that within two-three days we would be able to normalise the situation. For the time being, we would request people to stay indoors,"' the Kolkata Mayor,Mr. Firhad Hakim, said.

Several parts of Kolkata and affected districts continue to remain waterlogged, even as heavy machinery and water pumps are being used for flushing out the water.