3 May 2019 - Bangladesh, India

Flooding and devastation - fears for safety of hundreds of thousands of children as Cyclone Fani wreaks havoc

Save the Children teams on high alert as the cyclone travels towards West Bengal and Bangladesh

At least 480,000 children in India have been impacted by torrential rains, flooding and winds of up to 205 km per hour brought by Cyclone Fani, which has destroyed homes, schools and vital infrastructure across the eastern coast. 

As many as 320,000 children have already left their homes and are taking shelter in emergency evacuation centres across Odisha and West Bengal in eastern India.

Save the Children staff have received reports of low-lying areas along the coast being submerged by a five feet high storm surge, leading to the collapse of many houses made of mud and trees being uprooted. Some of the most marginalised children and families in the region often live on or nearby to riverbanks in flimsy homes, making them especially vulnerable to the rising water and devastation caused by the cyclone.

Save the Children’s teams are carrying out assessments across Odisha and Andhra Pradesh to determine the extent of the damage with shelter, household and school materials ready for distribution.  

In the Indian state of West Bengal and Bangladesh, where Cyclone Fani is expected to arrive late Friday night, Save the Children teams are on standby. The cyclone is expected  to remain in West Bengal with the same strength for at least 12 hours.  We are preparing to respond in 10 districts in the storm's path in Bangladesh with food, water, shelter, safety and hygiene facilities to communities who may have been made homeless or need assistance.

Vikas Gora, Save the Children’s general manager for Southern India, said:

“We’re particularly worried about the heath and homes of families in rural areas and those living by the coast. The scale of the devastation in areas that are hard to reach will be more fully known by tomorrow as the storm dies down and roads become accessible.

Many people in these communities rely on good weather for raw materials – such as crops and wood -  to make a living and feed their families. Their livelihoods will almost certainly be impacted badly from the impact of the storm.”

In Odisha, Save the Children works in 200 schools and 300 governmental pre-primary school to help educate children in almost 300 villages, preparing them for natural disasters. In West Bengal, Save the Children works in 200 villages with 1500 youth Emergency Response force members and carries two decades of emergency response experience. In the East Coast of India, Save the Children has responded to cyclone and flood situation for over 40 years, reaching out to scores of children in harm’s way. 

Spokespeople are available. To arrange an interview, please contact Davina Hagan in London on davina.hagan@savethechildren.org 0044 7732 601762. Out of office hours, please contact media@savethechildren.org.uk 0044 7831 650409.