The death toll due to cyclone Amphan in West Bengal has risen to 77 as authorities are busy restoring the normal life thrown out of gear by the region's worst weather disasters. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has left for West Bengal and Odisha to take stock of the situation in the wake of the cyclone wreaking havoc in the two states.
Five more bodies were recovered from the debris since Thursday night in various parts of West Bengal, raising the toll in the state to 77, officials said. Lakhs of people were rendered homeless as cyclone Amphan cut a path of destruction through half a dozen districts of West Bengal, including state capital Kolkata, Wednesday night, blowing away shanties, uprooting thousands of trees besides swamping low-lying areas.
Although electricity and the mobile connection was restored in some parts of the state capital and North and South 24 Parganas, two worst-hit districts, large parts of the city continued to remain without electricity as power poles had been blown away and communication lines snapped.
Modi will undertake an aerial survey of "cyclone-hit" areas in West Bengal along with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, official sources said. "He will conduct aerial surveys and take part in review meetings, where aspects of relief and rehabilitation will be discussed," the PMO said in a tweet Thursday night.
According to TMC sources, the chief minister is likely to demand a financial package for the state. "During COVID-19 situation, the states go nothing. We hope due to this cyclone, the central government would leave aside politics and would extend all sorts of help to rebuild the state," a senior TMC leader said.
Banerjee on Thursday had announced a compensation of Rs 2 lakh each for the family members of the deceased and a corpus fund of Rs 1,000 crore for preliminary restoration work of the affected areas. The total number of fatalities reported includes 19 from Kolkata, 17 from North 24 Parganas, 14 from the South 24 Parganas-Sunderban region and 10 from Basirhat, officials said.
Several relief camps have come up in the districts, where hapless people have queued up for two squares of meal and shelter after their homes being either blown or washed away. Teams of the NDRF and the State Disaster Relief Force (SDRF) have been working on a war-footing to clear the roads blocked by the falling trees.
More than 5,000 trees, along with a few hundred electric posts, traffic signals and police kiosks have been uprooted in an around Kolkata, said a KMC official. "Thousands of trees have been removed so far. But still, there is a lot more to be done. We are hopeful than within two-three days we would be able to normalise the situation. For the time being, we would request people to stay indoors," Kolkata Mayor Firhad Hakim said.
Several parts of Kolkata and affected districts continue to remain water clogged, even as heavy machinery and water pumps are being used for flushing out the water.