18 killed, 100,000 affected as Aila batters coastal West Bengal (Second Lead)May 25th, 2009 - 10:27 pm ICT by IANS
Kolkata, May 25 (IANS) Cyclone Aila pummelled coastal West Bengal as well as state capital Kolkata Monday as it unleashed storms that uprooted trees, electricity poles and thatched homes, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake, killing 18 people and affecting 100,000 others. The army was called in for rescue operations in the South 24 Parganas district.
Storms with a speed of 55 km per hour uprooted trees in around 50 places in Kolkata, blocking major roads. The accompanying rains caused waterlogging in large parts of the city, while power supply remained erratic and several flights were cancelled.
Four people were killed and 15 injured in Kolkata due to the storm that paralysed normal life. The usually bustling city streets were deserted since noon, as the authorities stopped tram services and asked people not to venture outdoors till the evening.
Eight people died in South 24 Parganas district, five in Howrah and one in Bankura, official sources said. Altogether 80,000 people were rescued, said Finance Minister Asim Dasgupta.
Hooghly, East Midnapore, West Midnapore and North 24 Pargaans also felt the fury of Aila.
However, in some good news to the city, the India Meteorological Department said the cyclonic storm would weaken gradually as it moves in a northerly direction.
A South 24 Parganas district official said 40,000 people have been rescued in Patharpratima, Kultali and Sagardigh blocks.
Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said the army has been asked to conduct rescue operations in Sandeshkhali, part of the mangrove forests of Sundarbans - home of the endangered Royal Bengal Tiger. Bhattacharjee, who monitored the situation through the day at the secretariat, is scheduled to visit Nimpith in South 24 Parganas Tuesday to assess the damage.
Train services were severely disrupted with the railway suspending operations from Howrah for several hours since afternoon. A South Eastern Railway spokesman said fallen trees blocked tracks at four stations in the Kharagpur-Howrah section and several passenger trains got stranded for hours.
Train services were also affected in the south section of the Sealdah division of Eastern Railways.
Railways Minister Mamata Banerjee postponed her departure to Delhi and said the army has been asked to move in to areas like Gosaba, Patharpratima and Kultali in and around the Sundarbans delta in South Parganas district.
Banerjee, who spoke to union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee several times on the issue, said the situation was “very bad” in Pakhiraganj, which was under eight feet water.
The met office said all districts of South Bengal would be lashed by storm and rains till Tuesday morning.
The police in Kolkata kept boats ready for emergency evacuation of people from low-lying areas, while the Rapid Action Force and the Quick Response Team were also on alert.
- 24 killed, 110,000 affected as Cyclone Aila pounds coastal West Bengal (Third Lead) - May 26, 2009
- Twelve killed as cyclone hits West Bengal, army called (Lead) - May 25, 2009
- West Bengal seeks fund for Sundarbans - Feb 18, 2011
- West Bengal cyclone death toll reaches 82, rescue operations on (Second Lead) - May 26, 2009
- West Bengal cyclone toll reaches 100, situation grim (Roundup) - May 28, 2009
- Battered but still balloting, Sundarbans shows way - Apr 28, 2011
- `Cyclone Aila' claims 11 lives in West Bengal - May 25, 2009
- Mamata to take charge of railway ministry in Kolkata - May 25, 2009
- Cyclone toll rises to 45, Rescue operations begin - May 26, 2009
- West Bengal issues alert on cyclone Laila - May 19, 2010
- Pilgrims not to pay tax at fair: Mamata - Oct 20, 2011
- Rescue operations on in cyclone-hit West Bengal (Lead) - May 26, 2009
- Parts of Kolkata waterlogged after rains - Apr 06, 2012
- Buddhadeb visits cyclone relief camps - May 26, 2009
- Bengal to acquire land for building river embankments - Jun 04, 2011
Tags: aila, bhattacharjee, chief minister, coastal west, cyclonic storm, dasgupta, electricity poles, finance minister, hooghly, howrah, india meteorological department, mangrove forests, midnapore, northerly direction, pummelled, rescue operations, royal bengal tiger, train services, tram services, west bengal