Cyclone Amphan kills 87, causes damages for 18 million people in Kolkata (photos)

About 60 per cent of trees have been uprooted; hundreds of thousands of homes destroyed. There is no electricity, water, food, sanitation. Roads are cut off. Many churches and convents have been affected. Caritas is working with the army in the relief and reconstruction efforts.

Kolkata (AsiaNews) - Cyclone Amphan, which hit West Bengal and Odisha last week killing 87 people (86 in West Bengal; one in Odisha), has caused extensive damage for at least 18 million of people.

At least, “60 per cent of the trees – many over 100 years old – have been uprooted, resulting in an environmental disaster,” says Fr Franklin Menezes, from Seva Kendra, the charity of the Archdiocese of Calcutta (Kolkata).

“Many of the trees fell on rooftops, destroying hundreds of thousands of houses, especially those of the poor, the least resistant.”

“Some trees fell on electrical wires and poles, so that many villages, even now, have no power for the Internet and water pumps. The lack of drinking water, hot food and a roof are the most urgent needs.

“The roads blocked by fallen trees are also a problem, especially in 24 Parganas South and North districts. Here it is still impossible to bring relief. The army is in charge of clearing the roads, along with many volunteers.”

Toilet facilities are also out of work because of water shortages and damages caused by the cyclone. The only positive note is the low death toll, thanks to the foresight of the two state governments, which moved 700,000 people to shelters.

Archbishop Thomas D'Souza of Calcutta is visiting places hit by the cyclone. “Amphan has destroyed homes, crops, animals in at least 24 parishes. Churches and convents have also suffered damage,” he told AsiaNews.

“I have sent a circular to all parish priests, religious superiors and school principals to provide food and shelter, wherever it is necessary, to those who were hit by the cyclone, without concern for belief or caste. In relief and reconstruction, Caritas is working with the Indian army.”

Card Oswald Gracias, president of Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI), offered prayers and compassion for the loss of lives and livelihoods in West Bengal and Odisha.

The Bishops, he said, "are one with the sufferings of the people". For this reason, he called on the civil and Church authorities to make every effort "to reach and help those who have been hit by the cyclone.” (N.C.)