May 13, 2019

Cyclone Fani death toll rises as anger grows against government

Odisha,4
India
by
Al Jazeera
The winds damaged half a million houses, uprooted hundreds of thousands of trees and knocked out power, telecommunications and water for millions of people in one of India's poorest states. Photo: Asit Kumar, AFP
The winds damaged half a million houses, uprooted hundreds of thousands of trees and knocked out power, telecommunications and water for millions of people in one of India's poorest states. Photo: Asit Kumar, AFP

The death toll from a major cyclone that hit eastern India and Bangladesh in early May has risen to 77 as anger grew over millions of people still without power and water.

Cyclone Fani, the first summer cyclone to hit India's Bay of Bengal coast in 43 years, made landfall in Odisha state on May 3, packing winds up to 200 kilometres an hour.

The winds damaged half a million houses, uprooted hundreds of thousands of trees and knocked out power, telecommunications and water for millions of people in one of India's poorest states.

The death toll in India earlier stood at 41 but shot up with casualties reported from Puri and Khurda districts on Sunday. Thirteen people also perished in Bangladesh after Fani barrelled northwards.

"The toll has gone up to 64 with maximum deaths - 39 - reported from Puri," an official at the State Emergency Operation Centre told AFP news agency.

India initially won praise, including from the United Nations, for moving some 1.2 million people to safety before the storm arrived, in what Odisha's chief minister called the "biggest human evacuation in history".

But this praise has turned to anger for many locals at what they see as the slow pace of reconstruction and apathy of the authorities.