M A I N   N E W S

120 dead as storm hits WB, Bihar, Assam

Guwahati, April 14
At least 120 persons were killed and over 200 injured when a severe nor’wester packed with a wind speed of 125 kmph raged for 40 minutes through North Dinajpur district in West Bengal, four neighbouring districts of Bihar and five in Assam.

While 39 persons were killed in North Dinajpur, 77 perished in five districts of Kishanganj, Araria, Supaul, Purnia and Katihar in Bihar in the storm that hit at midnight yesterday. At least four persons were killed in Mankachar under Dhubri district of Assam, while the nor'wester also affected Jorhat, Tinsukia, Sibsagar and Kamrup districts of the state, official sources said.

North Dinajpur District Magistrate Ramanuj Chakraborty said 17 persons died in Karandighi block, six in Goalpokhor block, seven in Raiganj, while Chakulia and Hemtabad blocks accounted for three deaths each. Two others died in Kaliaganj and one person in Itahar.

In Bihar’s Kishenganj, Araria, Purnia and Supaul districts, 33 persons were killed and 125 injured, official sources said. Regional Meteorological Centre Director GC Debnath confirmed that the storm was a severe nor'wester.

West Bengal Chief Secretary Ashok Mohan Chakrabarty, who put the toll at 32, told reporters in Kolkata that the storm levelled 50,000-60,000 dwelling units totally and a few partially.

Tin and thatched roofs were wrenched off and hurled at a distance in villages lining both sides of the National Highway in North Dinajpur. Bamboo groves in an area of over 500 sq ft of a village were completely uprooted as the storm ripped through Kaliaganj, Raiganj, Karandighi and Hemtabad blocks in North Dinajpur, Civil Defence Minister Sreekumar Mukherjee said. Around 50,000 dwellings were destroyed rendering hundreds of people homeless in the district while the police barracks in Raiganj was destroyed, he said.

Chakraborty said the Centre had offered help to the state government. “I contacted the Cabinet Secretary to brief him. The Centre is willing to assist the state government,” Chakraborty said. He said Rs 5 lakh was disbursed from the calamity relief fund for the affected people.

In Bihar, Chief Minsiter Nitish Kumar announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs 1.50 lakh to next of kin of each of the deceased, besides ordering construction of pucca houses under the Indira Awas Yojana. 





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