Update: Cyclone kills at least 82 in India, Bangladesh, causes widespread flooding

A man salvages his belongings from the rubble of a damaged shop after Cyclone Amphan made its landfall in South 24 Parganas district in the eastern state of West Bengal India May 21 2020. REUTERSRupak De Chowdhuri

KOLKATA/DHAKA, May 22 (NNN-AGENCIES) — The most powerful cyclone to strike eastern India and Bangladesh in over a decade killed at least 82 people, officials said, as rescue teams scoured devastated coastal villages, hampered by torn down power lines and flooding over large tracts of land.

Mass evacuations organised by authorities before Cyclone Amphan made landfall undoubtedly saved countless lives, but the full extent of the casualties and damage to property would only be known once communications were restored, officials said.

In the Indian state of West Bengal, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said that at least 72 people had perished – most of them either electrocuted or killed by trees uprooted by winds that gusted up to 185 km per hour.

In neighbouring Bangladesh, the initial toll was put at 10.

“I have never seen such a cyclone in my life. It seemed like the end of the world. All I could do was to pray… Almighty Allah saved us,” Azgar Ali, 49, a resident of Satkhira district on the Bangladesh coast told Reuters.

Mohammad Asaduzzaman, a senior police official in the area said the storm tore off tin roofs, snapped power lines and left many villages inundated.

When the cyclone barrelled in from the Bay of Bengal on Wednesday the storm surge of around five metres resulted in flooding across the low-lying coastal areas.

TV footage shot in West Bengal showed upturned boats on the shore, people wading through knee-deep water and buses crashed into each other.

More images showed villagers trying to lift fallen electricity poles, fishermen hauling their boats out of a choppy sea, and uprooted trees lying strewn across the countryside. — NNN-AGENCIES