Today’s Big Story
Cyclone Amphan batters West Bengal, CM says 12 dead in devastation Greater than COVID-19 impact
The extremely severe cyclone Amphan, packing winds of up to 190 kmph, rampaged through coastal Odisha and West Bengal, dumping heavy rain, swamping homes and farmland, and leaving at least three people dead, said officials. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, monitoring the situation from the state secretariat, claimed at least 10-12 people lost their lives. In neighbouring Bangladesh, officials said at least four people were killed.
Impact: In North and South 24 Parganas and East Midnapore, roofs of thatched houses were blown away and electric poles got twisted. Streets and homes in low-lying areas of Kolkata were swamped with rainwater. Electric supply either got snapped due to rain or was suspended as a precautionary measure in the city. Cell-phone services were disrupted in many places.
NDRF response: National Disaster Response Force Director General S N Pradhan said all 20 teams present in Odisha have been deployed, while in West Bengal, 19 teams have been deployed. Two have been kept in reserve in the state and one team has been deployed in Kolkata.
Warning signs: Amphan is perhaps not the last cyclone to form over the Bay this year, but its rapid intensification is a grim reminder of the dangers posed by a warming Indian Ocean, scientists said. This summer, sea surface temperature over the Bay of Bengal ranged between 31-34 degree Celsius, which was above normal levels, while anything above 27 degree Celsius quickens the formation of a cyclone after a low-pressure area develops, according to the Met Department.
In Other News
Green signal: Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri confirmed that domestic flight services in India will resume from May 25 in a calibrated manner. He also said that SOPs for passenger movement are being separately issued by Ministry of Civil Aviation.
Territorial tensions: Nepal's issued a revised map that included Limpiyadhura, Lipulekh and Kalapani, a decision rejected by India. The development comes after PM KP Sharma Oli said the virus in people who came to Nepal from India was more acute than the one in those who entered from Italy and China.
Back on track: The Railways issued a list of 100 pairs of trains that it will operate from June 1, putting in operation popular trains such as Durontos, Sampark Krantis, Jan Shatabdis and Poorva Express. Only online e-ticketing will be done through the IRCTC website or through the mobile app, and no tickets will be booked across the reservation counter on any railway station, the Railways said.
Congress bus row: Ending the Congress’ standoff with the UP government that led to the arrest of its state unit president, party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra in a video message, said the 1,000 buses it had arranged were being taken back if the Uttar Pradesh government didn't want to use them to help stranded migrant workers return home.
Bengaluru baffled: A thunderous sound — which many claimed sounded like a huge crash — was heard across Bengaluru on Wednesday afternoon, sending people into a state of panic. A spokesperson of the Ministry of Defence, however, clarified that it was a routine IAF test flight involving a supersonic profile.
On Our Specials
Collateral damage?: Wanton destruction of houses in the Nawakadal neighbourhood was revealed to residents as forces deinducted from the downtown area after killing two Hizbul Mujahideen militants. Soon, angry residents threw stones and bricks at police who replied with teargas canisters. They alleged the forces used heavy weaponry on the houses in a bid to neutralise the militants, Mufti Islah reports.
In defense: Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman rebutted criticism that the Centre should have opted for more cash support in its Covid-19 relief package and said giving cash was not the only solution. In an interview with Marya Shakil, the minister said it was the fear of contracting coronavirus that contributed to migrant workers leaving cities.