Yaas leaves 4 dead, 50,000 homeless

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As cyclone Yaas whiplashed India’s east coast with a wind speed of 140 km per hour, West Bengal and Odisha reported four deaths and 20 lakh people evacuated.  Hundreds of villages in Odisha and West Bengal are marooned, leaving more than 50,000 people homeless in West Bengal alone.

“The figure may rise as reports are yet to reach us from interior areas,” West Bengal minister Bankim Hazra informed Reuters.

Odisha’s  Bhadrak and Balasore districts are among the worst affected as the cyclone made landfall near Dhamra port in Bhadrak. East Midnapore and South 24 Parganas districts of West Bengal suffered the most. 

West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee told reporters her state is the worst affected. Flood water broke river embankments in more than 100 places across the state. The cyclone destroyed 20,000 mud homes. 

Shutters of stalls are broken in Digha | Courtesy: Biplab Jana

Residents of Sankarpur, Talsari, Jaldha villages in East Midnapore had to flee as the first floors of their homes were submerged.

Swapan Jana, a resident of Jaldha, said: “I have taken shelter in a relative’s home 4 km away. I left my home along with my two children and wife when I saw the water level in the field on Wednesday morning.”

About 2,000 residents of the village left their homes. People who live in two-storey houses have stayed back. The situation is the same for in the tourist spots of  Digha and Mandarmani. Stalls on the beach are completely submerged. Hotels are also affected.

Biplab Jana, a shopkeeper in Digha, said: “My shop is under chest-level water. I am trying to clear my shop, I can’t talk right now.”

Across East Midnapore district, almost 4.12 lakh people were evacuated from low-lying areas, ensuring  that nobody died. But nine lakh people have been are affected. 

Restoration of a broken embankment under way at Hingalganj in West Bengal | Courtesy: Sourav Mani

Sudipta Porel, additional district magistrate, East Midnapore, informed The Observer: “The cyclone has not affected us much, but due to a full moon, tides were so high that 800 villages were inundated. At least 72 km embankments are breached. Saline water has damaged crops in 8,150 hectares and 50,000 hectares area of fisheries is damaged.”

Banerjee will visit the affected areas on Friday. Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik has promised relief to affected people within seven days.


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