Extremely severe cyclone Amphan has killed at least 12 people and left a trail of devastation in its wake, as it struck parts of India's east coast, particularly in West Bengal and Odisha on Wednesday evening.
The largest city in the region, Kolkata, bore the brunt of the storm with its residents narrating harrowing accounts amid the rain and 150-kmph winds, and now, visuals from the morning after from Kolkata airport have brought to light Amphan's full impact, with a flooded tarmac, and inundated runways and hangars.
Cyclone Amphan which reported winds up to 190 kmph made landfall at the Digha coast of West Bengal at 2.30 pm on Wednesday, hitting Kolkata a few hours later.
In the visuals, an aircraft is seen standing in several feet-deep water, while hangars are seen damaged. Another image shows the roof having caved in, while the runway is seen submerged. Some reports from Kolkata said that seven planes that were earlier parked on the airfield had been flown out. However, in view of the cyclone, all operations at the airport, including special flights, were suspended till 5 am Thursday.
There were also widespread power cuts in large parts of Kolkata, North 24 Paraganas and South Paraganas. Mobile and internet services were also down in parts as the cyclone had damaged several communication towers. Streets and homes in low lying areas of Kolkata were swamped with rainwater. Portions of several dilapidated buildings came crashing down in Kolkata and other parts of the state. Embankments in Sundarban delta - a UNESCO site - were also breached as the surge whipped up by the cyclone inundated several kilometers of the island. More than five lakh people have been evacuated to safety by the state government. Hundreds of trees fell to the cyclone's power.
While a man and a woman were killed when trees came crashing down on them in North 24 Parganas district, a 13-year-old girl died in a similar incident in adjoining Howrah, officials said. Three persons were killed in Hooghly and North 24 Paraganas districts due to electrocution, officials said. A woman and her seven-year-old son were killed in the Regent park area of Kolkata after a tree fell on them, the officials said. They said a person was killed in Kolkata after being hit by a flying object during the storm. Senior state officials said it was too early to estimate a toll on life or damage to property as the hardest-hit areas were still not accessible.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had said on Tuesday had said that all precautionary measures were taken and 3 lakh people had been evacuated from coastal areas of West Bengal. Banerjee said she and senior state government officials were directly monitoring the situation and announced several helpline numbers.
"All precautionary measures are taken to deal with any eventuality arising out of the super cyclone. I had a word with Union Home Minister Amit Shah regarding it. At least three lakh people have been evacuated from three coastal districts of the state and moved to relief shelters," she told a press conference. The evacuees have been shifted to cyclone shelters and all other precautions are being taken, Banerjee added. The chief minister said she will talk to the Railways not to run any ‘Shramik Special’ trains to bring back migrant labourers to the state from Wednesday till Thursday morning as a precautionary measure.