HotSpots H2O: Powerful Cyclone Amphan Uproots Millions in Bangladesh and India

Kolkata, India, after Cyclone Amphan. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Parts of Bangladesh and eastern India are reeling in the aftermath of Cyclone Amphan, the most powerful storm to hit the region in more than a decade. 

More than 3 million people left their homes before the cyclone arrived, and thousands are unable to return after the storm caused widespread flooding and destruction. 

Aid groups in both India and Bangladesh are rushing to assist those hit by the cyclone. At the same time, many areas are trying to maintain Covid-19 prevention methods, including social distancing, while aiding the thousands who have been displaced by Amphan. 

A spokesperson for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said that Amphan has impacted at least 10 million people in Bangladesh, a country of 161 million. The death toll there is at least 25, and rescue efforts are ongoing. 

Millions were also affected in the eastern Indian state of West Bengal, where the death toll is nearing 100. Amphan caused extensive flooding in Kolkata, the state capital of 14 million, as well as in surrounding areas. 

Up to half a million people in total in the two countries might have lost their homes, OCHA spokesperson Jens Laerke said in a statement. Damage to infrastructure is also widespread, with roads deluged, power lines uprooted, and other systems disrupted by the storm. Crops were also hard hit. 

The most recent updates indicate that West Bengal sustained damages totaling 1 trillion rupees ($13 billion). Estimated losses in Bangladesh have reached 11 billion taka ($130 million), a number the government says is likely to rise in coming days. 

UN Secretary-General António Guterres praised the governments and residents of Bangladesh and India for their relief efforts leading up to and following the storm. He added that the UN is ready to assist. 

In India, soldiers have been deployed for rescue and relief efforts. Indian President Narendra Modi also pledged 10 billion rupees ($132 million) in emergency aid for West Bengal state.


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