Protests erupt in Kolkata over slow Indian government post-cyclone response

Protests erupt in Kolkata over slow Indian government post-cyclone response
Cyclone Amphan was the fiercest storm to hit India since 1999. Above, a bus damaged by a fallen tree due to Amphan in Kolkata on May 21, 2020 (ANI via Reuters)
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Updated 23 May 2020

Protests erupt in Kolkata over slow Indian government post-cyclone response

Protests erupt in Kolkata over slow Indian government post-cyclone response
  • With many areas still flooded and electricity still cut by the storm, Kolkata residents vented their anger for a second day

KOLKATA: Thousands took to the streets of the Indian city of Kolkata on Saturday to protest against what they said was the slow government response to power cuts and flooding after a devastating “super cyclone.”
The death toll in India and Bangladesh from Cyclone Amphan’s rampage along the Bay of Bengal coast rose to at least 112 on Saturday, as authorities struggled to deal with the aftermath of the storm while also trying to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
With many areas still flooded and electricity still cut by the storm, Kolkata residents vented their anger for a second day, demanding faster action to get the city of 15 million people working again.
Police said more than 5,000 people took part in different demonstrations early Saturday while witnesses said there were more.
The storm knocked out transformer stations setting off spectacular explosions across Kolkata. About 20 people were killed in the city, many of them electrocuted after venturing into the floods.
Many streets are still blocked by trees and water, and engineers are struggling to get to some parts to restore power.
“The coronavirus made our lives miserable, Cyclone Amphan turned it into hell,” Subash Biswas, principal of a state-run college in Kolkata said.
Cyclone Amphan was the fiercest storm to hit India and Bangladesh since 1999. At least 86 people are now reported dead in India and 26 in Bangladesh.
The toll was much less than previous storms in recent decades, which sometimes claimed thousands of lives. About three million people were moved away from the coast before Amphan struck.
Kolkata’s municipal chairman Firhad Hakim has warned that “it will take at five to six days to pump out the water from streets, to clear the uprooted trees and restore the water supply.”
Authorities are also trying to clear floodwater from Kolkata airport before domestic flights resume across India on Monday after a two-month coronavirus shutdown.
State disaster minister Javed Khan said that hundreds of villages had been flooded after more than 70 kilometers of river embankments were washed away.
“The devastation was so intense that many areas remain inaccessible even three days after the cyclone,” he said.
The United Nations has warned that the saltwater which flooded inland areas could affect local agriculture for up to three years.


Quake death toll at 73 as Indonesia struggles with string of disasters

Quake death toll at 73 as Indonesia struggles with string of disasters
Updated 17 January 2021

Quake death toll at 73 as Indonesia struggles with string of disasters

Quake death toll at 73 as Indonesia struggles with string of disasters
  • More than 820 people were injured and over 27,800 left their homes after the 6.2 magnitude quake
  • On Jan. 9, a Sriwijaya Air jet crashed into the Java Sea with 62 onboard

JAKARTA: At least 73 people have been killed after an earthquake struck Indonesia’s West Sulawesi province on Friday, the disaster mitigation agency (BNPB) said on Sunday, the latest in a string of disasters to hit the Southeast Asian country.
More than 820 people were injured and over 27,800 left their homes after the 6.2 magnitude quake, BNPB spokesman Raditya Jati said. Some sought refuge in the mountains, while others went to cramped evacuation centers, witnesses said.
Police and military officers have been deployed to crack down on looting in several parts of the region, Jati added.
An emergency response status, intended to help rescue efforts, has also been put in place for two weeks, he said.
Dwikorita Karnawati, the head of Indonesia’s meteorological, climatology and geophysical agency (BMKG), has said that another quake in the region could potentially trigger a tsunami.
Straddling the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, Indonesia is regularly hit by earthquakes. In 2018, a devastating 6.2-magnitude quake and subsequent tsunami struck the city of Palu, in Sulawesi, killing thousands.
Just two weeks into the new year, the world’s fourth-most populous country is battling several disasters.
Floods in North Sulawesi and South Kalimantan province each have killed at least five this month, while landslides in West Java province have killed at least 29, authorities said.
On Jan. 9, a Sriwijaya Air jet crashed into the Java Sea with 62 onboard.
East Java’s Semeru mountain erupted late on Saturday, but there have been no reports of casualties or evacuations.
Dwikorita said extreme weather and other “multi-dangers” of hydrometeorology are forecast in the coming weeks.