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Storm kills 77 in WB, Bihar
Kolkata/Patna, Apr 14 (IANS)
Published on 15 Apr. 2010 12:31 AM IST
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A ferocious storm ravaged parts of West Bengal and Bihar, leaving 77 people dead, destroying thousands of houses and snapping power and communication lines overnight, officials said Wednesday.
At least 38 people were killed in West Bengal’s North Dinajpur district while in neighbouring Bihar’s border districts of Araria, Purnia, Kishanganj and Supaul the toll was 39. The high velocity storm, which lasted almost an hour, uprooted hundreds of trees, caused widespread damage to crops and killed cattle in both states. West Bengal Civil Defence Minister Srikumar Mukherjee described the situation as “very grave”. More than 50,000 houses were destroyed in the state.
The storm, with wind speed of 120 km per hour, broke out at about 10.30 p.m. Tuesday and swept four blocks of North Dinajpur district. Eighteen people died in the worst affected Karandighi block. Jalpaiguri was also hit hard. “The ferocity was such that it twisted trees. That is why I feel it was more than a mere norwester (a storm common in this part of the country),” said Mukherjee, who hails from Dinajpur.
“Not only mud houses, even pucca houses did not escape its wrath. There is no power supply. Land telephone and mobiles are not working. We are trying to maintain a semblance of contact with district officials through police wireless,” the minister said over the phone. In Bihar, the maximum of 23 deaths were reported in Purnia district. The toll in Araria, Kishanganj and Supaul were 12, three and one respectively. “The storm hit the entire Seemanchal region including Araria, Purnia and Kishanganj and badly disturbed normal life,” Vayasji, principal secretary in the disaster management department, told IANS. “Thousands of people have been rendered homeless and many thatched houses destroyed,” he said. Araria District Superintendent of Police S.S. Thakur said an old wall of Araria jail collapsed following which “police decided to shift 650 inmates to Purnia jail”.
Unconfirmed reports said dozens of head of cattle were killed. Bihar has announced Rs.1.5 lakh compensation for the kin of those killed. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said: “I have asked district officials to provide relief to affected people soon.”
Official sources in the chief minister’s office said Nitish Kumar would visit Purnia and Araria to assess the situation.

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