Cyclone Amphan killed at least 22 people in India and Bangladesh on Wednesday, local authorities report. The cyclone made landfall earlier today. Earlier in the night from Wednesday to Thursday, a further fifteen fatalities were reported.
Amphan was the first to reach Sundarbans, a wooded area in the border region of India and Bangladesh that is home to some four million people. The hurricane then moved north and northeast, towards the metropolis of Kolkata in the Indian state of West Bengal.
The cyclone brings a lot of rain and gusts of wind of about 185 kilometers per hour. Thousands of trees and electricity poles have been plucked from the ground in both countries. Many homes have also been destroyed or flooded, including in Kolkata. In parts of the city, the electricity and telephone network went out on Wednesday. Fourteen people in India and eight people in Bangladesh are said to have died.
The region where the cyclone made landfall is low-lying and has many rivers. Severe flooding is feared as a result of storm surge and excessive rainfall. Crops are in danger of being destroyed and large areas of fertile land can be washed away. In addition, in a part of the population extra vulnerable because they live in huts.
Evacuations hindered by corona measures
In total, nearly three million people have been evacuated from coastal areas in recent days. The majority, at least two million evacuees, are from Bangladesh. A total of about 14 million people live on the predicted path of the cyclone.
Rescue attempts are hindered by the measures that also apply in India and Bangladesh because of the corona virus. Bangladesh should be kept as far apart as possible. The number of reception centers in Bangladesh has therefore doubled to 12,078, to ensure safe distance and hygiene.
In India, quarantine facilities are being converted into shelters to accommodate residents from coastal areas. School buildings are also used as a temporary reception location.
First super cyclone in over twenty years
According to the Indian weather service, Amphan is the first super cyclone in the Bay of Bengal since 1999. In that year, more than nine thousand died.
It is expected that Amphan will continue on Thursday through Bangladesh and later Bhutan. Meteorologists warn that another 300 millimeters of rain is expected, which increases the risk of flooding and mudslides.