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Cyclone wreaks havoc in India, Bangladesh; millions evacuated

NEW DELHI, May 20, 2020

Cyclone Amphan tonight made violent landfall in eastern India and Bangladesh, lashing communities along the coast with ferocious wind and rain, reported BBC.

It uprooted trees and toppled dwellings in both countries, including in the Indian city of Kolkata in West Bengal.

Nearly three million people were evacuated - most of them in Bangladesh - before the severe storm hit.

At least 12 people have died in India after Cyclone Amphan made landfall earlier today, authorities were quoted as saying by CNN.

All the reported deaths took place in the eastern Indian state of West Bengal, according the state chief minister Mamata Banerjee.

Banerjee said one of the victims, a girl in the Howrah district, died after a wall from her house collapsed. She did not provide any further details how the rest of the deaths occurred.

Coronavirus restrictions have been hampering emergency and relief efforts.

Covid-19 and social-distancing measures have made mass evacuations more difficult for authorities, with shelters unable to be used to full capacity, stated the report.

The storm, which was the first super cyclone to form in the Bay of Bengal since 1999, is expected to have caused deadly storm surges. Its winds have now weakened but it is still classified as a very severe cyclone.

Bangladesh Oxfam director, Dipankar Datta, told CNN that thousands of makeshift homes in Bangladesh have been uprooted due to the cyclone. He added that he does not expect the storm to hit the Rohingya refugee camp area in Cox’s Bazaar.

Amphan began hitting the Sundarbans, a mangrove area around the India-Bangladesh border home to four million people on Wednesday afternoon, before carving north and north-eastwards towards Kolkata.

It was moving with winds gusting up to 185km/h (115mph). Amphan is expected to move further into Bangladesh on Thursday, and later Bhutan.

Meanwhile officials in Bhadrak, a city in the Indian state of Odisha, have evacuated 218 Pregnant women from the area's coastal villages to health centres, the Indian government has said.

The Indian government said on Twitter that 60 of the evacuated women gave birth on May 19 and 20 under special medical care, as officials braced for the cyclone.

More than 150,000 people have been evacuated from Odisha's coastal areas, the director general of India's National Disaster Relief Force Satya Narayan Pradhan said earlier today.




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