NEWS
22/05/2020 5:40 PM IST | Updated 22/05/2020 5:40 PM IST

Cyclone Amphan: A Glimpse Of The Devastation In Coastal Bengal

Some images from south Bengal, which has largely been inaccessible.

Subhasish Mondal
Flooded parts of Sandeshkhali.

NEW DELHI — As cyclone Amphan tore through Bengal and Odisha on May 21, the southern part of Bengal took an unprecedented battering. Shell-shocked at the devastation wreaked by the super cyclone, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee said, “Shorbonash hoye gyache. (Everything is annihilated).”

While large swathes of capital city Kolkata remained without electricity and phone connections even a day later, very little news has emerged from parts of coastal Bengal, completely cut off due to damaged electricity lines and telephone connections. 

ALSO READ: How Cyclone Amphan Has Spelt Doom For West Bengal’s Covid-19 Efforts

HuffPost India managed to establish contact with a social worker in Sandeshkhali in North 24 Parganas, adjoining the mangroves of Sunderbans, which bore the brunt of the super cyclone. 

Subhasish Mondal, who works closely with the women and fishermen of Sandeshkhali block, told us that as far as his eye could see, everything was inundated with salt water and destroyed. Fourteen gram panchayats out of 16 in two blocks comprising Sandeshkhali were “completely destroyed”, he said. Eight of the nine gram panchayats of adjoining Hasnabad block are under water. The Hingalganj gram panchayat has witnessed unprecedented damage and barely has a single mud hut standing, Mondal said. Basirhat, the constituency under which all these blocks fall, has taken a severe beating. 

“At least 7,000-8,000 huts, maybe even 10,000 huts, have been completely razed to the ground. You cannot tell the walls from the roof, that’s how mangled the remains are,” he said.

Power went off the day the cyclone began approaching, so unlike Kolkata, parts of Sunderbans have not had power for three days now and no phone lines are working. Mondal said that thousands of people are now residing in school buildings and government shelters set up before the cyclone. 

Mondal, who has been coordinating with the state departments for relief and reviewing damages with a team, shared some photos of the devastation with HuffPost India

Subhasish Mondal
A man looks over at a stretch of agricultural land inundated by flood water after rivers breached banks during cyclone Amphan.
Subhasish Mondal
Crops were destroyed and fisheries flooded with sea water following the cyclone in areas around the Sunderbans.

Mondal added that the river crashed through the banks and the embankments the villagers had made with sacks and stones, flooding homes and drowning crops. 

Subhasish Mondal
Nearly 7,000 huts were razed in the cyclone and concrete structures like these were also flooded.
Subhasish Mondal
Schools and other buildings where people took shelter were also flooded.

“The primary livelihood of people in Sandeshkhali area is fishing. Holdings where fish are bred stretch to 100-200 bighas each... all those freshwater holdings have been flooded with saline water. The fish have been swept away and the rest are dying. The losses are unimaginable,” Mondal said. 

The small agricultural land the poorer farmers grew crops in are destroyed too, Mondal added. 

Subhhasish Mondal
A man wades through water with a container of food for people who have taken shelter in the upper floors of this building.
Subhasish Mondal
A flooded hut in Sandeshkhali.
Subhasish Mondal
A ravaged hut in the village.

(HuffPost India will keep updating this story as and when we can establish contact with our sources.)