Photos: Cyclone Amphan Makes Landfall Amidst COVID-19 Crisis

Indian response workers clearing roadway after the passage of Cyclone Amphan (NDRF)

Published May 20, 2020 2:14 PM by The Maritime Executive

Cyclone Amphan made landfall on the border between India and Bangladesh on Wednesday afternoon, bringing 100-knot winds and a storm surge of up to 16 feet. 

Despite complications related to the COVID-19 pandemic, Indian and Bangladeshi officials evacuated about three million people from the impact zone in advance of the storm, reducing the human toll of the cyclone. At least five individuals were killed, including three in West Bengal and two in Bangladesh. 

Early images from Kolkata showed extensive property damage, including downed trees, burnt-out electrical transformers, torn-up roofing, flooding and collapsed structures. An estimated 5,500 houses were damaged or destroyed in India, and at least 500 more within coastal parts of Bangladesh. 

The eye of the storm made landfall in the Sundarbans, the vast mangrove forest straddling the border between India and Bangladesh. The area has about four million inhabitants, many of them near the coast, and researcher Anamitra Anurag Dandra told Reuters that flood embankments in the area were likely breached - indicating broader damage.

39 response teams from India's National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) have been deployed in coastal regions of West Bengal and Odisha, the areas hit hardest by the stom. Both Indian and Bangladeshi authorities took measures to evacuate residents in advance, and about three million people were brought out of harm's way before Amphan made landfall. The evacuation occurred with COVID-19 precautionary measures in place, including the use of masks, but images show that social distancing was not always possible. The challenge was especially acute in cyclone shelters, many of which were already filled with COVID-19 evacuees, officials said.