The PM said the damage caused by the Cyclone is extensive and the Centre stands with West Bengal in these testing times, and will offer all support to help get the state back on its feet. Modi would next visit Odisha, which has also been impacted by the Cyclone.
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, who was present with Modi during the survey, said 80 people have died so far. “We evacuated more than 6 lakh people. Time and density of cyclone was worse, more than a national disaster. The PM will conduct an aerial survey in South and North 24 Parganas. We will work together,” she said. Banerjee had asked Modi on Thursday to visit the state and witness the devastation for himself.
Cyclone Amphan has battered several parts of the state and washing away bridges and swamping low-lying areas. It also wreaked havoc in Odisha damaging power and telecom infrastructure in several coastal districts.
The extremely severe cyclonic storm has weakened and moved to Bangladesh, said the India Meterological Department (IMD). The fiercest cyclone to hit Bengal in 100 years destroyed mud houses and crops, and uprooted trees and electric poles.
According to initial estimates by the West Bengal government, Amphan has caused a loss of at least Rs 1 lakh crore. The state, already reeling from revenue loss due to Covid-19, has asked the Centre for financial help.
This will be Modi’s first visit outside the national capital after the coronavirus lockdown was imposed on the midnight of March 24.
Sources in the government said Modi will first reach Bengal in the morning and then go to Odisha in the afternoon. Besides North and South 24 Parganas and Kolkata, the districts of East Midnapore and Howrah were the worst hit in Bengal as portions of several dilapidated buildings came crashing down in several places.
In a series of tweets on Thursday, Modi said no stone will be left unturned in helping those affected by cyclone Amphan. “Have been seeing visuals from West Bengal on the devastation caused by Cyclone Amphan,” he tweeted.
Banerjee, who has been monitoring the situation at state secretariat Nabanna since Tuesday night, said the impact of Amphan was “worse than coronavirus”.
Kolkata Mayor Firhad Hakim said more than 14 lakh people in the city are living without electricity since Wednesday night. “The entire city has been devastated. Around 4,000 trees have been uprooted in Kolkata. We are short of staff due to the Lockdown. It will take some time to restore normalcy,” he said.
Packing heavy rain and winds with speeds of up to 190 kmph, the cyclone barrelled through coastal districts of North and South 24 Parganas of Bengal and Odisha on Wednesday unleashing copious rain and windstorm.
The National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC) reviewed the rescue and relief operations in Bengal and Odisha at a meeting in Delhi and was told that minimal loss of lives was reported due to accurate forecast by the IMD and timely deployment of NDRF troops.