Where: Kolkata, India
May 28, 2009 : Cyclone Aila, which formed over the Bay of Bengal last weekend, hit the coast of India’s eastern state of West Bengal on Monday, May 25,2009. Winds blowing at the speed of 100 kilometres an hour with heavy rain caused havoc and paralysed life in the state’s capital city Kolkata. At least 10 people were killed in the city; some of them crushed to death under falling trees. The cyclone raged through several districts of the state, including the hill district of Darjeeling, where 23 people died in landslides. There were flash floods in most of the major rivers flowing through the state. The cyclone also wrecked large areas in the Sunderbans, the coastal delta chain of islands and home to a number of endangered Bengal tigers. Crops were destroyed in 24 Parganas district, and farmers there fear that the flooding by brackish waters would damage the soil and prevent any cultivation for the next two years.
Kolkata was staggering back to life with uprooted trees still blocking roads and power supply yet to be restored three days after the storms. Around 90 people in West Bengal lost their lives. Over 4 million people were affected by the cyclone, with thousands losing their homes. Rescue and relief operations are on, including the distribution of drinking water packages and community kitchens for the homeless. Authorities fear that death toll will rise as more bodies are recovered.
The cyclone moved into neighbouring Bangladesh on Tuesday, and over 130 people are reported dead in that country. Thousands are marooned, and half a million people have lost their homes. By Thursday, Cyclone Aila, which had reduced to a depression, disappeared totally, according to the Regional Meteorological Centre in Kolkata. Weather experts also expect that the monsoon, India’s annual rainfall season, may have been weakened by the cyclone.