May 22 (UPI) — More than 80 people in India have died on Thursday after Cyclone Amphan made landfall in the nation bringing dangerous winds and heavy rains.
At least 72 people died in West Bengal state, including a young girl who was killed after a wall collapsed in her home, and 10 people have been confirmed dead in Bangladesh, officials said.
No deaths were immediately reported in the coastal state of Odisha, government officials said.
Odisha chief secretary Asit Tripathy credited accurate forecasts by the India Meteorological Department and mass evacuations for saving lives.
“Nearly 200,000 people in Odisha were evacuated from their homes and placed safely in different shelters during the cyclone. A total of 210 medical teams and 75 teams of veterinary doctors have been sent to the affected areas,” said Tripathy.
The cyclone made landfall between Digha, West Bengal and Bangladesh’s Hatia islands at 3 p.m. on Wednesday with speeds between 95 mph and 102 mph and gusts of 114 mph, the equivalent of a Category 3 hurricane.
Amphan weakened to the strength of an Atlantic tropical storm as it moved between West Bengal and Bangladesh on Thursday but maintained wind speeds of up to 68 mph. The storm is expected to continue weakening as it travels northeast in the next 24 hours.
The storm tore down power lines, uprooted trees and caused flooding.
Director-general of India’s National Disaster Relief Force, S.N. Pradhan, said the Sunderbans, a cluster of islands spread between coastal districts in West Bengal, were “pulverized” by the cyclone.
“Maximum impact, as expected has been seen there,” said Pradhan.
In a series of tweets on Thursday, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi offered condolences to those affected by the storm and pledged assistance from the government.
“No stone will be left unturned in helping the affected,” he wrote.