Cyclone toll in Bengal rises to 77, PM arrives to take stock
The death toll from cyclone Amphan in West Bengal rose to 77 on friday, as disaster management and civil authorities scrambled to restore normal life and Prime Minister Narendra Modi flew down to the state capital to take stock of the situation, officials said.
Prime Minister Modi will review the situation with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, before flying to Odisha, where he will meet her counterpart Naveen Patnaik.
Five more bodies were recovered from different parts of West Bengal since Thursday night, raising the death toll in the state to 77, officials said.
Modi and Banerjee will also undertake an aerial survey of the cyclone-ravaged areas.
At the review meeting with the prime minister, Banerjee will likely seek an economic package for the state and reaffirm her demand that the cyclone be declared a national disaster.
Lakhs of people were rendered homeless as cyclone Amphan cut a path of destruction through half-a-dozen districts of West Bengal, including state capital Kolkata, Wednesday night, blowing away shanties, uprooting thousands of trees and swamping low-lying areas.
Although electricity and mobile services were restored in some parts of the state capital and North and South 24 Parganas, the two worst-hit districts, large areas of the city continued to remain without power as electric poles and communication lines had been blown away by gusting winds.
“He will conduct aerial surveys and take part in review meetings, where aspects of relief and rehabilitation will be discussed,” the PMO said in a tweet Thursday night.
Banerjee had on Thursday announced a compensation of Rs 2 lakh each for the families of the deceased and a corpus fund of Rs 1,000 crore for preliminary restoration work in the affected areas.
Teams of the NDRF and the State Disaster Relief Force (SDRF) have been working on a war-footing to clear the roads blocked by fallen trees.
More than 5,000 trees besides a few hundred electric posts, traffic signals and police kiosks have been uprooted in and around Kolkata, said a KMC official.
“Thousands of trees have been removed so far. But still, there is a lot more to be done. We are hopeful that within two-three days we would be able to normalize the situation. For the time being, we would request people to stay indoors,” Kolkata Mayor and state minister Firhad Hakim said.