Cyclone toll rises to 45; rescue operations begin in West Bengal

Cyclone toll rises to 45; rescue operations begin in West Bengal

Kolkata: The death toll due to Monday’s havoc caused by cyclone ‘Aila’ in West Bengal rose to 45 on Tuesday.

The highest number of 20 deaths occurred in South 24 Parganas district followed by eight in North 24 Parganas, six each in Kolkata and Howrah, three in Birbhum and one each in Bankura and Malda, official sources said.

Two columns of army, one each in Sandeshkhali and Kultali of North and South 24 Parganas districts respectively, were carrying out rescue and relief operations, defence spokesman Wing Commander Mahesh Upasani said.

Six more army columns were on standby, he said.

Two MI-17 helicopters were air-dropping food packets in the two worst hit areas in the two districts, he said.

The army would also take up operations in Hingalganj in North 24 Parganas and Gosaba, Patharpratima and Sagardwip areas in South 24 Parganas.

Railway minister Mamata Banerjee is scheduled to visit Kakdwip in South 24 Parganas district on Tuesday.

The cyclone and its after effects were over, Regional Meteorological Centre director G C Debnath said.

However, there was a possibility of rain, he said.

The cyclone ushered in the state a fortnight ahead of the schedule, Debnath said.

Life in the metropolis was returning to normal today with people going to markets, offices and educational institutions, deputy commissioner (HQ) Javed Shamim said.

Uprooted trees that were lying in some areas, blocking roads, were being cleared. Some areas were still water-logged, he said, adding that several areas in Kolkata and the two districts were without electricity since Monday.

Yesterday’s storm ripped through Kolkata, North and South 24 Parganas, Howrah, Hooghly, Burdwan and East Midnapore affecting a population of 1.10 lakh.

Meanwhile, incessant rains were reported from all the six districts in north Bengal as a residual effect of the cyclone.

A report from Bhubaneswar quoting official sources said most roads blocked by uprooted trees in Orissa’s Kendrapara and Jagatsinghpur districts were cleared.

The cyclonic storm had hit Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara, Cuttack, Chadrak and Balasore districts.

The situation in some villages in Rajnagar and Mahakalapada in Kendrapara district and Ersama in Jagatsinghpur inundated by sea waters would take two to three days to improve.

Relief material including dry food were provided to about 2,000 people in Satabhaya area in Kendrapara.

Though electricity supply disrupted by the storm has been restored in towns, rural areas continued to remain without power.

The government has cancelled leave of officials in areas affected by the storm.