CYCLONE AMPHAN is the latest and most heartbreaking catastrophe to hit West Bengal, already grappling with the coronavirus pandemic. On the afternoon of May 20, with the top wind speed of 185kmph, Amphan made its landfall, first in coastal Odisha before hitting the Sunderbans and Kolkata.
Within hours the City of Joy, caught in the eye of the storm, looked like Armageddon had arrived as the worst cyclone in 283 years roared through - uprooting trees, tearing down electric cables, taking the roof off buildings, hurtling tin sheets and tiles like missiles through the air and flooding streets and low-lying areas.
The initial human death toll across West Bengal is 72, mainly crushed by falling trees or electrocuted, but officials expect it to be much higher once communication is restored. In the midst of rising cases of Covid-19 and the pressure it has put on government machinery, the battering that Cyclone Amphan has meted out to West Bengal feels like the last nail in the coffin.
Like one street vendor on the outskirts of Kolkata lamented - his tea stall, which he had just opened after two months when lockdown restrictions were eased, stands flattened now. And with it, his livelihood which had already taken a beating. He said: ‘The Gods can just simply kill us. Why put us through so much pain?’
Our partner NGOs are working in the worst affected areas of the Sundarbans, South and North 24 Parganas, East Medinipur and the slums of Kolkata - trying to provide food, shelter and healthcare as immediate relief. Help victims of Cyclone Amphan get back on their feet again. Give generously.
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Cyclone Amphan has devastated poor communities in Bengal already suffering the Covid lockdown. They need your urgent help.
How you can help
Provide temporary shelter to those who have lost their homes
Save affected families from hunger
Prevent outbreak of water-borne diseases