Cleanup be­gins af­ter cy­clone rav­ages In­dia, Bangladesh

Toronto Star - - WORLD - SHEIKH SAALIQ

NEW DELHI— Au­thor­i­ties be­gan clear­ing roads and as­sess­ing dam­age on Fri­day af­ter Cy­clone Am­phan bar­relled through coastal com­mu­ni­ties in eastern In­dia and neigh­bour­ing Bangladesh, killing more than100 peo­ple and leav­ing mil­lions dis­placed.

In In­dia’s West Ben­gal state, which bore the brunt of the storm that caused ex­ten­sive flood­ing in its cap­i­tal Kolkata, po­lice and dis­as­ter re­sponse teams re­moved fallen trees and other de­bris, re­paired com­mu­ni­ca­tion lines and be­gan mov­ing hun­dreds of thou­sands of peo­ple out of shel­ters.

Am­phan hit land Wed­nes­day as the most pow­er­ful storm in the re­gion in more than a decade, dump­ing heavy rain amid a bat­ter­ing storm surge. West Ben­gal Chief Min­is­ter Ma­mata Ban­er­jee said the cy­clone should be treated as a na­tional dis­as­ter and ap­pealed for as­sis­tance from the fed­eral govern­ment.

Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi sur­veyed the worst-hit ar­eas of West Ben­gal and neigh­bour­ing Odisha state by air. It was Modi’s first trip out­side the na­tional cap­i­tal af­ter im­pos­ing a coron­avirus lock­down in late March. “The coun­try is al­ready go­ing through a cri­sis and dur­ing that time we have to deal with a cy­clone,” Modi said in West Ben­gal.

He an­nounced a $195-mil­lion (U.S.) re­lief fund for the two storm-bat­tered states. The cy­clone has raised fears it could ex­ac­er­bate the spread of the virus in over­crowded emer­gency shel­ters.

Of­fi­cials in Bangladesh said the cy­clone caused about $130 mil­lion in dam­age to in­fra­struc­ture, hous­ing, fish­eries, live­stock, wa­ter re­sources and agri­cul­ture. The full ex­tent of the dam­age along In­dia’s eastern coast was not im­me­di­ately known. Au­thor­i­ties in both coun­tries man­aged to evac­u­ate more than three mil­lion peo­ple be­fore Am­phan struck. At least 80 peo­ple were killed in West Ben­gal and two deaths were re­ported in Odisha state. Broadcaste­rs in Bangladesh re­ported 22 deaths.

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