Palaces For The People
Thursday, October 09, 2003
Today's India Floods: Around 8,000 houses were destroyed while 40,000 have been partially damaged. - The Times of India

Tornado strikes, floods to follow


KOLKATA: The spectre of flood loomed large over several parts of West Bengal as there was no respite from the incessant rain.

Yet, there was no lull before the storm. Over 350 houses were razed to the ground and three persons seriously injured in a freak storm that struck Murshidabad on Thursday.

Accompanied by heavy rain and lasting for five minutes, it resembled a tornado though authorities refused to call it so.

The worst-affected villages were Harahari, Chhamugram and Manigram in the Sagardighi area.

The sudden storm hit the villages around 10 am, uprooting trees, destroying houses and flattening standing crops.

"We have received no information of deaths due to the storm. Authorities have rushed to the spot and relief operations have begun," said Murshidabad district magistrate Manoj Pant.

In Kolkata, officials said tidal waves in coastal areas and release of large quantities of water from the barrages in Jharkhand had submerged parts of six districts.

Besides, the tidal waves had rendered more than 70 embankments in South 24-Parganas and coastal Midnapore vulnerable.

Nearly 250,000 people were affected and 4,570 families ferried to safety.

Around 8,000 houses were destroyed while 40,000 have been partially damaged.

The weather department warned the government of another 48 hours of downpour with wind at the speed of 65-75 kmph, especially in north Bengal.

"Though the depression has weakened, further rain and consequent release of water from the barrages will submerge more areas. Already parts of some districts have been inundated," said state relief minister Hafiz Alam Sairani.

Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee alerted all the districts and asked to arrange for evacuation and relief in vulnerable areas.

The worst-affected districts were East and West Midnapore, South and North 24-Parganas and Hooghly in south Bengal.

The whole of north Bengal experienced heavy rainfall while two buildings caved in at Darjeeling town.

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