Cyclone Amphan caused estimated damage of $ 13.2 billion in Indian West Bengal: a government source

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Cyclone Amphan kills dozens and leaves thousands homeless

The storm, Cyclone Amphan, filled strong winds and heavy rains which killed at least 80 people in West Bengal and another 10 across the border in Bangladesh. About 500,000 families in Bangladesh could now be homeless, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, while the West Bengal government said that about 60% of the population was affected.

There is a greater urgency for people who have been displaced by the storm to adequately take shelter from the Covid-19 pandemic, as both India and Bangladesh are struggling with accelerating infection rates.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced on Friday that the central government would present a $ 132 million aid package to help people affected by the storm, including direct payments for those who have lost family members or been injured. West Bengal Prime Minister Mamta Banerjee pledged to spend the same amount on recovery efforts.

“The whole world is facing a crisis, India is also fighting against coronavirus, the method of fighting coronavirus and cyclone are completely opposite,” said Modi.

“A team will also come together from the central government and conduct surveys in all these areas and together we will provide our full support for rehabilitation, reconstruction, restoration,” said Modi.

The Prime Minister visited the region on Friday, where he, Banerjee and West Bengal governor Jagdeep Dhankar visited the areas hit hard by the storm.

Amphan was the most powerful cyclone ever formed in the Gulf of Bengal and, although it weakened before landing, it caused widespread damage in both countries.

Both India and Bangladesh faced the Herculean task of balancing the storm’s preparations with the need to adhere to the rules of social distance to stop the spread of the new coronavirus.

Authorities are rushing to provide aid in communities already affected by the coronavirus, hampered in many areas by heavy rain and fallen debris that has made the roads impassable.

India has passed more than 100,000 confirmed coronavirus infections earlier this week, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The country announced the largest one-day peak in Friday cases, recording an additional 6,088 patients in 24 hours.

Cases in Bangladesh are also steadily increasing. To date, the country has confirmed over 28,511 cases and 408 virus deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins.

S.N. Pradhan, the director general of the National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF) of India, said that the worst of the devastation was concentrated in two coastal districts of West Bengal. He said the Sunderbans, an ecologically fragile group of low islands scattered across India and Bangladesh, had been “pulverized” by the cyclone.

Calcutta, the largest city on the cyclone’s direct route and home to 14 million people, has seen Pradhan powerful unprecedented winds.

A Bangladeshi official said that almost all coastal districts have been seriously affected.

Although large-scale evacuation efforts appear to have saved many lives, it may take days to realize all the deaths, injuries and damage caused by the cyclone.

CNN’s Joshua Berlinger, Helen Regan, Swati Gupta, Esha Mitra and Manveena Suri contributed to this report

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