`Cyclone Aila’ renders 24000 homeless in W. Bengal’s South 24 Parganas District

May 26th, 2009 - 2:25 pm ICT by ANI  

Kolkata, May 26 (ANI): About 24000 people have been rendered homeless in West Bengal’s South 24 Parganas District, the area worst hit by `Cyclone Alia’.

The district administration has set up about 100 relief camps across the disaster zone and launched relief and rescue operations at the block level.

Television reports said that West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattarcharjee and Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee are in the district to review the situation.

In the Sunderbans Delta zone, large areas, including several villages, within the Kakdwip Sub-Division have been inundated and thousands have been forced to quit home and hearth and leave for relief camps.

Huge tracts of paddy fields have been inundated and in several places the force of water has led to breaching of river embankments. The high tides have left most of the riverside villages. The waters simply rushed in destroying mud and bamboo walls of the houses.

Within the Kakdwip Sub-Division, the worst affected is the Pathar Pratima block where under Gopal Nagar gram panchayat, the river has breached the embankment in Mithapukur. Villages like Sitarampur, Gobardhanpur, Ganashyampur, Jagatballavpur Achintapur etc have been inundated. A switch break has occurred at Ramganga. Many of the regular boats and ferries that ply in the region have sunk or lost under the force of the tides.

According to Prashant Biswas, SDO, Kakdwip Sub-Division, the district administration has launched rescue and relief operations and set up several camps in different blocks. Tarpaulins and food are being supplied to the camps, he said, adding that Pather Pratima block has been the worst affected and inundation has taken place at Sagar Island, Souther block and Namkhana too.

The rescue and relief operations have been affected due to loss of several boats and ferries in the high tide, he said.

Elsewhere in the Sunderbans, the most affected islands are Dayapur, Jamespur, Annpore and Lahiripur, near the Sajnekhali forest area.

Earlier in the day, it was reported that West Bengal capital Kolkata is limping back to normal a day after `Cyclone Aila’ brushed past it at a distance of 50 km.

The size of the cyclonic system was so large - with a maximum diameter of 250-350 km - that when the core crossed the coast, the city was already reeling from its impact with wind speeds of 120 kmph.

At least 35 people have been killed across the state, 15 of them in Kolkata and Howrah and 20 others in South Bengal districts. Over 1500 trees lie uprooted across the main thoroughfares in the city, several electric poles have keeled over, electricity, water supply and cable connections have been disrupted in several pockets across the metropolis.

Office goers, however, are making efforts to go to work even as the public transport system is crawling back to normalcy. The main problem is the blocked roads. Uprooted trees are being cut and cleared at a snail’s pace by corporation staff who have not responded adequately to the crisis. Only about 75 civic personnel have been at work since yesterday evening with just 26 axes, 30 machetes and just one gas cutter, trying to clear away the over 1000 uprooted trees.

The storm which started around 1.30 p.m. Monday and lasted till 8.30 p.m., with a couple of hours lull around 3 p.m., rendered Kolkata immobile. Roads were blocked, public transport collapsed, all to and fro flights were cancelled and even the dependable metro crashed.

The last cyclone, the Great Calcutta Cyclone, wrecked the city on October 5, 1864. About 60,000 people were killed then. (ANI)

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