- “We are facing greater damage and devastation than the CoVID-19," West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said.
A powerful cyclone pounded eastern India and Bangladesh on Wednesday, killing at least 14 people and destroying thousands of homes, officials said, leaving authorities struggling to mount relief efforts amid a surging coronavirus outbreak.
The populous Indian state of West Bengal took the brunt of Cyclone Amphan, which barrelled out of the Bay of Bengal with gusting winds of up to 185 km per hour (115 mph) and a storm surge of around five metres.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said at least 10 people had died in the state, and two districts been completely battered by one of the strongest storms to hit the region in several years.
“Area after area has been devastated. Communications are disrupted," Banerjee said, adding that although 500,000 people had been evacuated, state authorities had not entirely anticipated the ferocity of the storm.
With rains continuing, she said the hardest hits areas were not immediately accessible. Federal authorities said they could only make a proper assessment of the destruction on Thursday morning.
“We are facing greater damage and devastation than the CoVID-19," Banerjee said, referring to the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, which has so far killed 250 people in the state.
In West Bengal's capital city, Kolkata, strong winds upturned cars and felled trees and electricity poles. Parts of the city were plunged into darkness.
An official in the adjoining Hooghly district said thousands of mud homes were damaged by raging winds.