NEW DELHI -- Cyclone Amphan, one of the most powerful storms to hit South Asia in recent years, has claimed at least 81 lives and caused large-scale devastation in India and Bangladesh, officials said Thursday.
Amphan destroyed thousands of homes, uprooted trees, submerged villages and left vast areas without access to drinking water, power and communications as authorities struggled with relief operations amid coronavirus outbreaks in both countries.
Seventy-two people were killed in India's West Bengal state, which took the brunt of the storm, with the state capital Kolkata accounting for 15 casualties, state chief minister Mamata Banerjee said.
Amphan barreled in from the Bay of Bengal and slammed the state's coast late Wednesday, bringing heavy rains and packing winds up to 185 kilometers per hour (kph) (115 miles per hour).
The cyclone traveled inland into Bangladesh, where nine more deaths were confirmed, according to disaster management official Nitay Dey Sarkar.
The extent of damage became clearer on Thursday, with television footage from Kolkata showing extensive damage to infrastructure and roads, upturned cars and felled electric poles.
"It is a catastrophe," Banerjee said. "The whole southern part of the state has been affected. We are shocked. It will take three to four days to assess the damage."
Millions were left without power as there were outages in large parts of Bangladesh and West Bengal.
Officials said it was among the worst storms to ever hit Kolkata, a densely populated city with 15 million inhabitants.
"It was a terrifying experience. Our windows rattled and our building swayed under the impact of the storm. Amphan has left a trail of destruction with collapsed lamp posts and trees on roads and massive water-logging in the city," Kolkata resident Priya Rawat said.