Cyclone Amphan has wreaked havoc for 4.5 million people across Odisha and killed at least 72 people in West Bengal. It hit India’s eastern coast with wind speeds of up to 185 kph affecting 1,500 villages in Odisha, tearing down power lines, uprooting trees, caused flooding, triggering mass evacuations and leaving at least 72 people dead in West Bengal. The airport in Kolkata looked like a swimming pool with heavy downpours across the city.
Amphan has been the most powerful cyclone to strike eastern India and Bangladesh in over a decade.
“Nearly two lakh [200,000] people in Odisha were evacuated from their homes and placed safely in different shelters during the cyclone. A total of 210 medical teams and 75 teams of veterinary doctors have been sent to the affected areas,” Odisha chief secretary Asit Tripathy said.
Tripathy thanked India Meteorological Department (IMD) for accurate predictions which made arrangements easier and efficient and added correct forecast of the natural calamity helped contain the damage to life and property. “The IMD is valuable in this area and its forecast is getting better with time. We thank Mohapatra, NDRF [ National Disaster Response Force] DG [director general] S N Pradhan and everyone in this valuable national body,” he said.
Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik separately conducted an aerial survey of the affected areas of the state’s coastal and adjoining districts that took the brunt of Amphan.
According to authorities more than 80% of power supply will be restored and all roads in the cyclone-hit districts would be cleared within 24-48 hours.
In a tweet, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said authorities were working on the ground to ensure all possible assistance to the cyclone-hit people. “My thoughts are with the people of Odisha as the state bravely battles the effects of Cyclone Amphan. Authorities are working on the ground to ensure all possible assistance to the those affected. I pray that the situation normalises at the earliest,” Modi tweeted.
Moved by the suffering and devastation caused by cyclone Amphan, His Holiness the Dalai Lama wrote to Mamata Banerjee and Naveen Patnaik to express his sadness over the loss of life, the devastation of property, as well as the hardship caused to so many people, in several districts of their states due to Cyclone Amphan.
“I appreciate the prior preparations that were made to respond to this natural disaster, and the efforts that are underway to provide relief and assistance to those affected,” His Holiness wrote to each Chief Minister.
“As a mark of solidarity with the people of West Bengal and Odisha, I am making a donation from the Dalai Lama Trust to the relief and rebuilding efforts.
“I would like to convey my condolences to you, to the families who have lost loved ones, and to all those affected by Cyclone Amphan.”
To Mamata Banerjee he remarked, “In addition to our profound respect for India as a sacred land, which has also been home to many Tibetans over the last 61 years, we have a special regard for Bengal. This is because Shantarakshita, the great philosopher and dialectician who established Samyé, the first Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Tibet in the 8th century CE, and Dipankara Atisha, who revived the practice of Buddhism in the 11th century, both hailed from Bengal.”
Cyclone Amphan, the most severe storm in the Bay of Bengal since 1999.
“If Aila  was 10, this is 110,” West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee said commenting on the severity of Amphan.
The situation in Bangladesh is also grim. While Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh was spared the worst of the cyclone’s impact flooding in the densely populated camps where almost one million Rohingya refugees live in shelters on hill sides, has sparked fears of mudslides. There are also concerns about the growing number of coronavirus cases in the camps.
“The situation in the low-lying coastal districts is very grave. Many homes have been destroyed and the cyclone has washed in salty water, contaminating the land and water sources... The extra hygiene precautions necessary to contain coronavirus are slowing the response but we know they are vital”, Dipankar Datta, Country Director, Oxfam in Bangladesh said.
According to IMD data the number of cyclones in the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal has increased by 32% in the last five years, says IMD data. Experts believe Amphan is an indicator that oceans are warming due to rising emissions for which world leaders have to do more brainstorming to arrest the rise in temperatures.