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Devastating cyclone hits India and Bangladesh

By Gideon Heugh | 22 May 2020

A powerful storm has left a trail of destruction across parts of India and Bangladesh. Cyclone Amphan made landfall on Wednesday, with wind speeds as high as 175kmph uprooting trees, blowing off roofs and destroying power lines.

At the time of writing 84 people are confirmed to have been killed, while tens of thousands of homes have been destroyed. Flooding caused by the storm has devastated crops, while more than 14 million people have been left without power. The full extent of the damage is not yet known, with many rural areas cut off by damaged roads and collapsed bridges.

Mercifully, more than 3 million people were evacuated from coastal areas – averting further loss of life. However, with people crowded together in shelters, there are fears that there could be a dramatic surge in coronavirus cases.

A second disaster
Though the Rohingya refugee camps of Cox’s Bazar were not in the storm’s direct path, heavy rainfall and high winds have worsened living conditions and accessibility at a time when the first cases of coronavirus are emerging among the Rohingya people. The situation is still being assessed, but there are reports of flooding and mudslides in several of the camps.

‘We anticipate a second disaster unfolding, compounding challenges for millions of people,’ explains Sudarshan Reddy Kodooru, Tearfund’s Country Director for Bangladesh.

‘People in the camps were already living in overcrowded conditions, making social distancing impossible. If more homes are damaged, life will become increasingly precarious for people who have already suffered far too much.’

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Written by Gideon Heugh