Cyclone ‘Bulbul’, which barrelled through the coastal districts of West Bengal before hurtling towards Bangladesh, claimed at least 10 lives and affected at least 2.73 lakh families in different parts of the state, official reports said on Sunday.
The severe cyclonic storm, which brought in its wake heavy rain coupled with gale wind till early Sunday, uprooted hundreds of trees and snapped cables in the city and in the coastal districts of North and South 24 Parganas and East Midnapore, bring life to a near-halt.
State Disaster Management Minister Javed Khan said that at least 2,473 houses were destroyed and another 26,000 were partially damaged in the cyclone in the coastal districts along the Bay of Bengal, with the fishing towns of Bakkhali and Namkhana being among the worst-affected areas.
He said that while 2.73 lakh families were affected in the storm, 1.78 lakh people were moved to relief camps set up in nine places of the state.
‘Bulbul’ claimed the lives of five persons in separate incidents in North Parganas alone, an official said.
According to a senior police officer, a septuagenarian woman, Suchitra Mandal, died at Purba Makala village in Basirhat area of the district when a tree fell on her.
Several trees were also uprooted at Gokhna village, one of which claimed the life of Reba Biswas (47).
Manirul Gazi (59) was the third casualty in North 24 Parganas. He was electrocuted to death after coming in contact with a lamppost, the officer added.
Two more deaths, one due to wall collapse and another after coming under a falling tree, were also reported in the district, a state government official said.
In East Midnapore, too, a man died after he was crushed by a falling tree.
Two persons died in South 24 Parganas district in cyclone-related incidents, the official said.
Body of one fisherman from Fraserganj fishing harbour in South 24 Parganas was recovered, a senior official of state Disaster Management department said.
Eight other fishermen and four trawlers from Fraserganj were still missing, the official said.
Earlier, on Saturday, even before the cyclone hit the coast, an employee of a renowned club in the city was killed when a branch of a cedar tree fell on him during heavy rain.
The minister said that 46,000 tarpaulin sheets were distributed among people whose residences were damaged in the cyclone.
Gale wind with gusts up to 135 kmph prevailed over the coastal districts of South 24 Parganas and East Midnapore and its adjoining areas in North 24 Parganas as the cyclone made landfall around midnight on Saturday.
Torrential rain lashed the metropolis throughout Saturday, forcing people to remain indoors.
Hundreds of uprooted trees blocked thoroughfares in the state capital and its fringe areas, even as people braved the adverse conditions to come out of homes as the weather improved on Sunday afternoon.
The NDRF, along with the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC), police and fire personnel, is working on a war footing to clear road blockades caused by fallen trees and branches.
“We have already engaged workers to clear the roads and pump out water from low-lying areas. We are hopeful our work will be over by tonight,” said a KMC official.
Khan said, all emergency services have been put in place to ensure that the uprooted trees are removed at the earliest.
According to the IMD, the very severe cyclonic storm had weakened into the severe cyclonic storm before making landfall close to Sunderban Dhanchi forest.
“Yesterday’s very severe cyclonic storm ‘Bulbul’ over northwest Bay of Bengal (BoB) moved northeastwards, weakened into a severe cyclonic storm and crossed West Bengal coast close to Sunderban Dhanchi forest during 8.30 pm to 11.30 pm with a maximum sustained wind speed of 110-120 kmph gusting to 135 kmph,” it said.
The cyclonic storm is likely to weaken into a deep depression and further into a depression as it moves east- northeastwards over coastal Bangladesh, the IMD said in a bulletin on Sunday afternoon.
In a tweet, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said, she would conduct an aerial survey of the affected areas around Namkhana and Bakkhali in South 24 Parganas.
“Due to the severe cyclonic storm ‘Bulbul’, I have decided to postpone my North Bengal visit in the coming week. Instead, tomorrow I would take an aerial survey of the affected areas around Namkhana and Bakkhali.
“Later I would take a meeting at Kakdwip with the administration to review the relief and rehabilitation measures of the cyclone-affected people. I am also planning to visit the cyclone-affected areas of Basirhat of North 24-Parganas on 13 November 2019,” Banerjee tweeted on Sunday.
State power minister Sovandeb Chattopadhyay said, measures were being taken to restore power supply in areas, where electric cables have been torn apart due to the cyclone.
Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee about the situation arising out of the cyclone and assured the state of all assistance to deal with the calamity.
“Reviewed the situation in the wake of cyclone conditions and heavy rain in parts of Eastern India,” the prime minister wrote on Twitter.