Raigunj/Purnia/Kishangunj: At least 60 people were killed and over two hundred injured when a severe storm with a windspeed of 125 kmph ripped through North Dinajpur district in West Bengal and four neighbouring districts of Bihar.
Thirty-one people were killed and one hundred injured when the storm tore through four blocks of North Dinajpur district at midnight last night, official sources said.
North Dinajpur additional district magistrate P.K. Dutta said 18 deaths occurred in Karandighi block and eight in Raiganj, while three people were also killed at Hemtabad and two others at Kaliaganj.
Over 100 persons who were injured have been hospitalised.
West Bengal civil defence minister Srikumar Mukherjee said that the storm had a windspeed of 125 kmph.
Around 50,000 dwellings were destroyed rendering hundreds of people homeless in the district while the police barracks in Raiganj was razed.
Reports from Araria and Purnia in Bihar, quoting official sources, said at least 29 people were killed and 125 injured in several blocks in four districts of Kishanganj, Araria, Supaul and Purnia bordering West Bengal.
Araria alone accounted for 19 deaths, while six persons died in Purnia and two each in Supaul and Kishanganj districts, officials said.
Thousands of trees were uprooted affecting traffic and the National Highway 34 was blocked for several hours, the minister said.
The storm struck when the people had retired for the night and the casualties were high because most of the houses that were razed were built with mud.
The ADM said the toll might rise as detailed information was not immediately available from the far-flung areas.
In Araria district of Bihar, which was worst-affected, the storm devastated Jokihat, Forbesganj and Araria blocks where telecommunication failed and trees and houses collapsed, sources said.
Bihar Disaster Management department principal secretary Vyasji said chief minister Nitish Kumar announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs1.50 lakh to next of kin of each of the deceased, besides ordering construction of pucca houses under the Indira Awas Yojana and food-grains.