Kolkata, May 23 : The extremely severe cyclonic storm ‘Amphan’, which ravaged Bengal at a wind speed of 130 kmph, killed at least 86 people and rendered thousands homeless in the state on Wednesday evening. The cyclone battered several parts of the state, washed away bridges and swamped low-lying areas. Power supply, broadband services and mobile network have been down in various parts of the city. According to Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC), over 5,000 trees fell across the city and hundreds of lamp posts were uprooted.
Trees blocked roads in areas such as Maidan, Lake Gardens, Gariahat, Golf Green, Salt Lake, Southern Avenue and so on and so forth. “Over 5,000 trees were uprooted and several houses have collapsed. The city has never witnessed a bigger disaster than this,” said Firhad Hakim, chairman of board of administrators at KMC. The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) said networks continued to operate at 65-70 per cent capacity in the State. Continuous power outages, frequent fibre cuts and snapped electricity wires on roads have made restoration of telecom networks a challenging task, COAI said. Telecom companies expect to make up to 90 per cent services operational by Sunday evening. However, people in various parts of the city staged protests on Friday, demanding immediate resumption of power and water supply.
Mr Hakim, on his part, gave assurances that normalcy would be restored in a week, as government officials were working round the clock to improve the situation. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced Rs 1,000 crore emergency fund after aerial survey in two of the worst affected districts in West Bengal. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said the State has suffered losses of more than Rs 1 lakh crore due to the super cyclonic storm. Meanwhile, Bollywood superstar ShahRukh expressed his solidarity with the people of West Bengal and Odisha in the wake of Cyclone Amphan. Taking to his twitter handle, Khan said, "My prayers, thoughts & love to those affected by the devastation caused by cyclone Amphan in Bengal & Odisha. The news has left me feeling hollow. Each & everyone of them is my own. Like my family. We must stay strong through these testing times until we can smile together again." The European Union has announced an initial funding of 500,000 euros for cyclone Amphan Affected people in India. "The EU will address immediate needs of people affected by the cyclone, as well as protect humanitarian aid and health workers from their exposure to the epidemic," EU Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarcic said in a statement.
Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama has written to Mamata Banerjee and expressed sympathy for the loss of lives and property in the state. In his letter to the chief minister, the Buddhist leader His Holiness said he is making a donation from the Dalai Lama Trust for the relief and rebuilding efforts "as a mark of solidarity" with the people of West Bengal .However, the amount of donation was not mentioned in the statement issued by his office. Meanwhile,the number of samples tested for COVID-19 in West Bengal almost halved over the last two days, as most technicians could not reach laboratories making their way through thousands of trees and electric poles that lay scattered across the state, owing to the impact of Cyclone Amphan, a senior official said. While the number of samples tested on Tuesday and Wednesday were 8,712 and 8,722, respectively, the count came down to 4,242 on Thursday and 5,355 on Friday, he said. “Disasters wreaked havoc on fighting the pandemic,” said Bhuputra Panda, associate professor of Public Health Foundation of India.
“The possibility of increasing the rate of transmission rises sharply as it becomes almost impossible to maintain social distancing, hygiene, wearing masks. Even quarantine centers are converted into cyclone shelters.” “At relief centers, we are providing masks,” Kolkata Mayor Firhad Hakim said. “There are so many people that it’s difficult, but we are trying to maintain social distancing," he added. (UNI)