Severity: Critical Alert

Environment: TC Amphan causes widespread damage in West Bengal, India, and Khulna and Barisal divisions in Bangladesh as of May 22. Disruptions ongoing.

The locations affected by this alert are:

  • Kolkata, West Bengal State
  • Khulna
  • Haldia, West Bengal State
  • Jessore

This alert began 22 May 2020 07:32 GMT and is scheduled to expire 25 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: TC Amphan Aftermath
  • Location(s): West Bengal State, India, and Khulna and Barisal divisions, Bangladesh (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Transport, business, and utility disruptions

Summary
Tropical Cyclone Amphan has caused widespread damage and disrupted utility and communication networks in areas of West Bengal, India, and southern and western Bangladesh as of May 22. The most significant damage occurred in Kolkata, South 24-Parganas, North 24-Parganas, East Midnapore, West Midnapore, Nadia, Howrah, Hooghly, and Malda districts in West Bengal State, though other areas were affected. In Bangladesh, Amphan affected southern and western parts of the country; the most significant destruction reportedly occurred in coastal areas of Khulna and Barisal divisions, including Khulna, Satkhira, Bagerhat, and Patuakhali districts hardest hit by the storm. As of May 22, damage assessments are ongoing, as power and telecommunications outages have limited damage reports from many areas. Officials have confirmed that at least 72 people died in West Bengal and as many as 16 deaths in Bangladesh; however, the casualty count is highly likely to increase in the coming days.

Evacuations and Infrastructure

Authorities evacuated millions of civilians from in high-risk areas prior to the cyclone's landfall. Amphan reportedly destroyed thousands of homes along its path, with Bangladeshi authorities reporting damage or destruction of 82,000 homes in Khulna Division and 60,000 homes in Barisal Division. Thousands of people will likely remain in temporary shelters in the coming days. Several affected districts continue to experience power disruptions in West Bengal State, including in Kolkata, as the cyclone downed thousands of trees and electricity poles. Amphan caused power outages in several areas of Bangladesh; however, as of the afternoon of May 21, officials had restored power to approximately 90 percent of affected areas. However, lingering power disruptions are highly likely in hard-hit districts, especially Khulna, Satkhira, and Bagerhat. Water outages are also occurring in areas experiencing electricity outages. Communications disruptions are ongoing in both West Bengal State, India, and affected divisions in Bangladesh as of May 22.

Transport

Ground transport disruptions are ongoing, with reports indicating that the cyclone damaged many roads in West Bengal, India, including a section of National Highway 35, and coastal districts in Bangladesh. Hundreds of traffic lights were reportedly downed or damaged in Kolkata. Bangladeshi officials have said that Amphan destroyed as many as 200 bridges. Flooding and debris may make some bridges or roadways impassable, impacting ground travel in and around affected areas. Flights resumed at Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport (CCU) in Kolkata since May 21, after flooding on the runway forced officials to halt operations.

Health

The threat of disease outbreaks remains possible in the coming days and weeks. Backflow from drains that have mixed with floodwaters can become trapped in open areas when inundations recede. These stagnant pools often become a breeding ground for mosquitoes and bacteria, increasing the incidence of insect- and waterborne diseases. Exposure to contaminated water from inundated industrial sites, sewer systems, and septic tanks also poses a significant health threat.

Advice
Seek updated information on road conditions before driving in affected areas; some roads could be closed for days. Plan accordingly for commercial, transport, and logistical disruptions across the affected area. Do not drive on flooded roads or past flood barriers. Use extreme caution in low-lying coastal areas and near streams, creeks, and other waterways due to the ongoing threat of areal flooding.

Charge battery-powered devices when electricity is available; restrict the use of cellphones to emergencies only. Power down mobile devices when not in use. Keep important documents in waterproof containers. Observe strict food and water precautions, as municipalities could issue boil-water advisories following flooding events. Take precautions against insect- and waterborne diseases in the coming weeks. Keep any necessary medications in a waterproof container.