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Nearly 1 million evacuated as cyclone batters Bangladesh and India (VIDEO)

The storm caused devastation on Sunday as authorities moved people inland from coastal areas 

Cyclone Remal unleashed winds up to 135kph and caused widespread destruction after making landfall on the coast of eastern India’s West Bengal state and in Bangladesh on Sunday. At least four people have been killed and hundreds of thousands displaced, according to media reports on Monday, as the storm continues to pound low-lying coastal areas. 

The cyclone uprooted trees, damaged electricity and communication towers, and disrupted transport. Bangladesh’s electricity authority cut electricity generation by more than half as a safety measure on Monday, leaving hundreds of thousands without power across the country, The Daily Star newspaper reported.

Bangladesh evacuated 800,000 people from low-lying coastal areas before the cyclone made landfall. The country’s authorities have set up more than 7,000 cyclone shelters and mobilized 78,000 volunteers, State Minister for Disaster Management and Relief Mohibur Rahman told Reuters. 

In India, more than 100,000 people were shifted to cyclone shelters as the storm approached on Sunday. The airport in Kolkata, the capital of India’s West Bengal state, was shut down, and 394 flights were canceled. Normal operation resumed on Monday as the storm weakened. 

However, the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has issued red alerts for Kolkata and neighboring cities over expected continued downpours. The state capital has also been plagued by flooding in the aftermath of the storm, the Times of India reported.

On Sunday, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a meeting to review “preparedness” for the cyclone. He asked the Home Ministry to monitor the situation and conduct a review after the cyclone made landfall, as well as extending “necessary assistance for restoration.” India has deployed its disaster relief force in West Bengal and neighboring Odisha state, which has also been affected.

Thousands of people in India and Bangladesh have been killed as a result of cyclones in recent decades. In 2007, an ‘extremely severe cyclonic storm’ dubbed Sidr killed more than 3,000 people in Bangladesh. In May last year, Cyclone Mocha destroyed thousands of homes. In 2020, Cyclone Amphan killed at least 80 people in the two countries.

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