India, Bangladesh: Cyclone Fani leaves thousands homeless | News | DW | 05.05.2019
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India, Bangladesh: Cyclone Fani leaves thousands homeless

Emergency teams across north east India and in Bangladesh are working to repair water and energy supplies after Cyclone Fani. Buildings, communities and roads were destroyed by the storm.

Some 60,000 officials and volunteers are involved in a massive relief operation to repair the physical infrastructure, deliver food and medicine to victims, and restore electricity and water supplies after Friday's cyclone hit the north east Indian coast before battering Bangladesh.

Around 2.5 million families have been affected by the storm. 

Many have been left homeless after heavy winds ripped out tin roofs, felled trees and destroyed power and phone lines, officials said on Sunday. Many of the homes which survived have been without power for three days. 

Cyclone Fani caused more than $173 million (€155 million) worth of damage to the power infrastructure in eastern India, according to preliminary reports.

According to officials on Sunday, 29 people died in India's Odisha state and 13 died in Bangladesh. "We are trying to confirm the identity of the victims but since communication lines have been hit, it is taking time," Odisha's special relief commissioner Bishnupada Sethi told AFP.

The toll in Bangladesh included six people struck by lightning, disaster management official Golam Mostofa said.

The low death count in comparison to the last major cyclone in 1999 which killed 10,000 people was due to evacuations ahead of the storm, improved early forecasting and well-drilled evacuation operations in Odisha.

Read more:  The world's deadliest hurricanes, typhoons and cyclones

The UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction praised India for its preparations, which included the evacuation of 1.2 million people.

"Almost 7,000 kitchens catering to 9,000 shelters were made functional overnight," Odisha's chief minister Naveen Patnaik said. "This mammoth exercise involved more than 45,000 volunteers."

Cyclone Fani was the first summer cyclone to hit India's Bay of Bengal coast in 43 years and only the third in the past 150 years, Patnaik added. Normally the storms hit around October and November.

Read more: Cyclone batters Bangladesh after major disaster averted in India

kw/jm (AFP, dpa)

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