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Cyclone Aila kills 24 in WB
KOLKATA, MAY 25 (Agencies):
Published on 26 May. 2009 1:29 AM IST
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Cyclone Aila spawned from a deep depression in the Bay of Bengal to hit West Bengal today leaving twenty four persons dead and affected 1.10 lakh. The highest number of fourteen deaths, according to official sources, was reported from South 24 Parganas district, followed by five in the metropolis, three in Howrah and one in Bankura district. “The cyclone, now lying stationery 50 km west of Kolkata, hit the West Bengal coast at 1:30 pm near Sagar Island. It is moving in a northerly direction and will weaken gradually, Regional Meteorological Centre Director G C Debnath told PTI tonight. The met office said all districts of south Bengal would be lashed by storm and rains till Tuesday morning. A severe storm with a windspeed of 110 kmph accompanied by heavy rainfall preceded the cyclone ripping through Kolkata, North and South 24 Parganas, Howrah, Hooghly, Burdwan and East Midnapore districts at 110 kmph. 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, 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. Railways Minister Mamata Banerjee postponed her departure to Delhi and said the army has been asked to move into the affected areas. 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. Meanwhile, flights to Dimapur Monday were cancelled owing to the cyclone that affected Kolkata.

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