scenes of “incredible devastation” after the passage of Cyclone Amphan

Along with heavy rain and winds up to 185 km / h, the powerful cyclone Amphan in eastern India and Bangladesh fell on Wednesday. A preliminary assessment reports nine deaths in the two countries.

Hundreds of flooded coastal villages, lost crops, extinct trees and useless infrastructure: the passage of Cyclone Amphan left scenes of “unparalleled devastation” in India and Bangladesh on Thursday.

The human toll for this cyclone, so far the most powerful of XXIe century in the Bay of Bengal, is still very uncertain due to the scale of disasters and telecommunications interruptions. The first official reports from the two countries currently report at least 22 deaths, but this figure is perhaps only very fragmented.

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Amphan (pronounced “um-pun”) appearing this weekend outside India made landfall late Wednesday south of the city of Calcutta, accompanied by winds of around 165 km / h and torrents. More than 3 million people had been evacuated and protected by their strategy.

In Bangladesh, a storm grows up to 3 meters

“The cyclone didn’t kill people here. But it destroyed our livelihood,” an official in the Bangladeshi city of Buri Goalini, where Amphan said, “left an incredible havoc.”

The cyclone caused a storm surge (tidal wave) up to three meters high, which sank over part of the coast and caused plenty of salt water to grow through the villages.

“It caused enormous destruction. Thousands of trees have been displaced. The ramparts [qui protègent les villages de basse élévation et les élevages de crevettes]has given way in many places and flooded many villages, “said Anwar Hossain Howlader, a senior official in the Bangladeshi province of Khulna.

The night of terror in Calcutta

On the other side of the border, in India, the situation is identical and the damage is also to a large extent.

“Cyclone Amphan destroyed the West Bengal coast. Thousands of houses were demolished, trees crowded, roads submerged and crops destroyed,” Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee told reporters. State.

At the end of a night of terror, the 15 million inhabitants of Calcutta woke up to a spectacle of a city with flooded streets, cars filled with water sometimes to the windows and traffic lanes blocked by trees and electric poles dropped to the ground.

Cyclone Amphan weakened in the morning to become a simple tropical depression, Indian Meteorological Services said.

Amphan had reached category 4 of 5 on the Saffir-Simpson scale on Monday, with winds ranging from 200km / h to 240km / h. It is the most powerful cyclone born in the Bay of Bengal since 1999, when a cyclone killed 10,000 people in Odisha.

The countries of the region have learned the lessons of the devastating cyclones of the devastating decades: They have built thousands of shelter for the population and implemented a rapid evacuation policy.

Little respect for safeguards

However, the coronavirus pandemic has made their work much more difficult this year. To prevent the spread of the virus, the authorities had urged the displaced to respect physical distance in shelters and to wear masks.

In practice, these precautions have been respected to a small extent, AFP journalists noted. “The room is cramped and it is impossible to maintain physical distance here. Everything is in God’s hands now,” said the 25-year-old woman who had sought refuge with her 5-month-old son in a school in the Bangladeshi city of Dacope.

With AFP and Reuters