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Cyclone slams parts of India, Bangladesh

Cyclone slams parts of India, Bangladesh

Wide tracts of coastal India and Bangladesh have been flooded and millions are without power after Cyclone Amphan swept through, killing more than 80 people and cutting a path of destruction.

Amphan is the most powerful storm to hit the region in more than a decade.

Many parts of the Indian metropolis of Kolkata, home to more than 14 million people, were under water, and its airport was closed briefly by flooding.

Roads were littered with uprooted trees and lamp posts, electricity and communication lines were down and centuries-old buildings were damaged.

Officials in both countries said the full extent of the damage caused by the cyclone was not known because communications to many places were cut.

Hundreds of thousands of people were evacuated ahead of the storm, a process complicated by the coronavirus pandemic.

Amphan came ashore on Wednesday with heavy rain, a battering storm surge and sustained winds of 170km/h and gusts up to 190km/h. It devastated coastal villages, knocking down mud houses, tearing down utility poles and uprooting trees.

"I have never seen such a disaster before," said West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, adding that the government would pay the equivalent of $A5035 to families who lost a relative in the storm.

At least 74 people were killed in India, with most of the deaths in West Bengal state, which includes Kolkata. Broadcasters in Bangladesh reported 13 were killed in that country.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said authorities were working to get all possible assistance to victims of the cyclone.

"No stone will be left unturned in helping the affected," he tweeted.

About 10 million people in Bangladesh remained without electricity, said Moin Uddin, chairman of the Bangladesh Rural Electrification Board.

Hundreds of villages were flooded and shelters were unable to run at full capacity in many places due to the coronavirus. Some people were too scared about the risk of infection to go there.

The pandemic also will affect relief efforts and the recovery. Damage from the storm is likely to have lasting repercussions for the poor, who are already stretched to the limit by the economic impact of the virus.

In an initial assessment in Bangladesh, Enamur Rahman, the country's junior minister for disaster management, said the cyclone caused the equivalent of about $A200 million in damage to infrastructure, housing, fisheries, livestock, water resources and agriculture.