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story.lead_photo.caption An Indian traffic police person controls traffic during heavy rain in Gauhati, India, Thursday, May 21, 2020. A powerful cyclone ripped through densely populated coastal India and Bangladesh, blowing off roofs and whipping up waves that swallowed embankments and bridges and left entire villages without access to fresh water, electricity and communications. (AP Photo/Anupam Nath)

NEW DELHI -- Wide areas of coastal India and Bangladesh were flooded and millions were without power Thursday as Cyclone Amphan, the most powerful storm to hit the region in more than a decade, killed more than 80 people and cut a path of destruction that is still being assessed.

Many parts of the Indian metropolis of Kolkata, home to more than 14 million people, were under water, and its airport was closed briefly by flooding. Roads were littered with uprooted trees and lampposts, electricity and communication lines were down and centuries-old buildings were damaged.

Officials in both countries said the full extent of the damage caused by the cyclone was not known because communications to many places were cut. Hundreds of thousands of people were evacuated ahead of the storm, a process complicated by the coronavirus pandemic.

Amphan rolled ashore Wednesday with heavy rain, a battering storm surge and sustained winds of 105 mph and gusts up to 118 mph. It devastated coastal villages, knocking down mud houses, tearing down utility poles and uprooting trees.

[Video not showing up above? Click here to watch » https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PV8Cn8Skj_E]

"I have never seen such a disaster before," said West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, adding that the government would pay the equivalent of $3,310 to families who lost a relative in the storm.

At least 74 people were killed in India, with most of the deaths in West Bengal state, which includes Kolkata. Broadcasters in Bangladesh reported 13 were killed in that country.

"The roofs of many homes have flown away and the streets are waterlogged," said Shuli Ghosh, who runs a cafe in Kolkata.

With many of its streets still flooded and phone and internet service not fully restored, officials said they were trying to determine the extent of damage in the capital of West Bengal state.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said authorities were working to get all possible assistance to victims of the cyclone.

"No stone will be left unturned in helping the affected," he tweeted.

About 10 million people in Bangladesh remained without electricity, said Moin Uddin, chairman of the Bangladesh Rural Electrification Board.

Hundreds of villages were flooded and shelters were unable to run at full capacity in many places because of the coronavirus. Some people were too scared about the risk of infection to go there.

Gallery: Cyclone Amphan

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The pandemic also will affect relief efforts and the recovery. Damage from the storm is likely to have lasting repercussions for the poor, who are already stretched to the limit by the economic impact of the virus.

In an initial assessment in Bangladesh, Enamur Rahman, the country's junior minister for disaster management, said the cyclone caused about $130 million in damage to infrastructure, housing, fisheries, livestock, water resources and agriculture.

More than 680 miles of roads, 150 flood-protection embankments and nearly 200,000 shrimp farms have been damaged in 26 of 64 districts, Rahman said at a news conference, adding that crops on more than 494,000 acres have been damaged.

Information for this article was contributed by Chonchui Ngashangva and Aniruddha Ghosal of The Associated Press.

A Section on 05/22/2020

Print Headline: Cyclone wind, rain batter India, Bangladesh

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