Six hours of severe cyclonic storm Amphan on 20th May hit Odisha and West Bengal like a wrecking ball and left Kolkata Airport flooded, while also damaging the airport’s infrastructural facilities.
At least 10 people have died due to the cyclone in West Bengal and property worth thousands of crores have been damaged. The cyclone left behind a trail of destruction in Kolkata, Hooghly, North and South 24 Parganas districts.
Visuals of the city airport amid the cyclone shows a flooded runway, a collapsed hangar, and an airplane damaged under a collapsed roof.
According to reports, all operations at the airport were to be shut till 5am today amid the warning signals. However, resumption of operations were only scheduled to take place from afternoon,as per reports.
Presently, cargo and evacuation flights are also unable to operate from the airport and the passenger flights operations are already on hold due to coronavirus outbreak.
“Sarbanash hoye galo (It is a catastrophe).”~Mamata Banerjee, West Bengal’s Chief Minister on the cyclone that slammed into Bengal around 2:30 pm
The cyclone which has wreaked havoc during the COVID-19 crisis, shows that pandemic preparedness cannot remain separate from disaster preparedness.
The cyclone Amphan will not only hit the supply chain by creating a panic-buying situation of essentials but also will hamper the social distancing norms, one of the key measures to contain the COVID-19 spread.
Ms Banerjee said the impact of Amphan was worse than the coronavirus pandemic. She claimed the cyclone could have caused damage worth Rs 1 lakh crore.
“Area after area has been devastated. Communications are disrupted,” said Ms Banerjee, adding that although 5 lakh people had been evacuated, state authorities had not entirely anticipated the ferocity of the storm.
Considering the damage to power, road, housing, and other infrastructure followed by conversion of cyclone shelters into quarantine shelters much before there were warnings of the cyclone developing, evacuees are likely to be stranded in cyclone shelters for days, if not weeks.