World

Cyclone Amphan’s death toll rises to 80 in India and Bangladesh

NEW DELHI — More than 80 people were killed by the powerful cyclone that slammed into India and Bangladesh on Wednesday, wiping out thousands of homes and drenching low-lying areas in torrential rain, officials said Thursday.

Many of the dead were crushed by falling trees, electrocuted by downed wires, or buried inside collapsing buildings as Cyclone Amphan pummeled the region, leaving a wide swath of devastation and grief.

The worst damage was reported in the Indian state of West Bengal, which includes the metropolis of Kolkata and many small, coastal villages where people live in shacks made from mud and sticks.

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The storm ripped through there, and although many villagers had evacuated beforehand, as Indian authorities had urged, some had resisting packing into shelters because they feared the coronavirus.

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Initially, Indian authorities believed that a combination of an impressive evacuation effort and the weakening of the storm as it swirled onto land had spared more lives.

But West Bengal’s chief minister, Mamata Banerjee, one of India’s most powerful women, said she had “never seen such a disaster before.”

“At one end there is this small COVID virus that is terrifying people,” she said in a video conference. “This was another virus from the sky.”

NEW YORK TIMES