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Strongest cyclone to hit India and Bangladesh in two decades causes ‘unimaginable’ destruction

10 May 2019


Flooding caused by Cyclone Fani in Bangladesh

Flooding caused by Cyclone Fani in Bangladesh

THE strongest cyclone to hit India and Bangladesh in two decades has killed at least 15 people and caused the evacuation of millions of people.

Cyclone Fani made landfall last Friday in Odisha state, India. Winds of more than 200kph caused devastation to the coastal state: many buildings were destroyed, and there was severe flooding.

The head of humanitarian programmes for Christian Aid, Madara Hettiarachchi, said last week: “The cyclone has caused devastation: trees have been uprooted, airports are shut, and electricity has been cut off.

“Our local partners are responding quickly in India, prioritising the most vulnerable. They will airlift shelter items and provide food and water filters to those in relief camps and cyclone shelters.”

The biggest impact was felt in the north-eastern Indian city of Puri, and Odisha’s capital Bhubaneswar. It was reported that as many as 60 per cent of trees and telephone poles had been felled in the city because of the storm.

“Destruction is unimaginable. Puri is devastated,” the special relief commissioner for Odisha, Bishnupada Sethi, told Reuters last weekend.

More than a million people were evacuated from their homes to camps for safety in India, and a further million were evacuated in Bangladesh.

Speaking on Thursday of last week, before the storm, the head of humanitarian and emergency affairs for World Vision India, Franklin Jones, said: “The most likely impact will be on the shelters, because coastal houses are that strong; so it will impact people’s livelihoods as well.”

World Vision would be looking out for the areas which already hosted their projects, he said, and then would be looking to help the immediate needs of children and mothers after the cyclone had blown through.“They have seen major cyclones before, including last year; so this time everyone is prepared to co-operate with government agencies.

“People were able to overcome the last cyclone, but we need to improve the strength of shelters and housing for next time.”

The director of programme and advocacy for Oxfam India, Pankaj Anand, said: “We are focusing on work that will help people regain their income, provide clean water, prevent waterborne diseases, and protect displaced people.

“The hygiene needs of women and girls, in particular, will be one of our top priorities. After the full assessment of people’s needs, we will work to rebuild and rehabilitate in the worst affected areas.”

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