Cyclone Bulbul, which wreaked havoc overnight in the coastal districts of West Bengal before hurtling towards Bangladesh, claimed at least seven lives and affected at least 4.65 lakh people in different parts of the state.
The coastal areas of North and South 24-Parganas and East Midnapore were affected the worst due to the storm. Bulbul, which was accompanied by heavy rain coupled with gale-force winds till early Sunday, uprooted hundreds of trees and snapped cables in the city and in the coastal districts, bringing life to a near halt.
The cyclone had made landfall around 8.30 p.m. on Saturday 60 kilometres east of Sagar Island and 100 kilometres south of Kolkata.
The wind speed was around 120 km per hour and went upto 135 km per hour .
“Areas like Bakkhali, Frasergunj, Kakdwip, Sagar, Namkhana, Patharpratima, Basirhat in South 24-Parganas, Hingangunj, Sandeshkhali, Basirhat in North 24-Parganas, Khejuri, Nandigram, and parts of Digha has been badly affected,” an official in Nabanna said. Schools in the affected districts will remain closed on Monday, he added.
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.
Torrential rain lashed Kolkata 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. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee will conduct an aerial survey of the affected areas around Namkhana and Bakkhali tomorrow to assess the damage in addition to visiting the districts.
Banerjee had remained at the control room of Nabanna last night and monitored the movement of the cyclone.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah spoke with Banerjee this morning regarding the situation in Bengal and assured all possible assistance to the state. It is learnt that the state government has already sent a preliminary report of the damage caused by the storm to the Centre.
According to sources in the state disaster management department, as per reports received till this evening, seven people have died due to the cyclone, among which five are in North 24-Parganas, one each in East Midnapore and South 24-Parganas.
Among the deceased, Reba Biswas and Moidul Gazi from Bashirhat, Prakriti Midda from Hingalgunj, Bideshi Sarkar from Sandeshkhali and Subrata Das from Nandigram died after trees fell on them.
Suchitra Mondal from Hingalgunj and Sanjoy Das from South 24-Parganas died due to wall collapse. A total of 4.65 lakh people have been affected.
Altogether 1.78 lakh people are taking shelter in various relief camps and cyclone centres. 2473 houses were destroyed and 26,000 suffered partial damage. Agricultural crops also bore the brunt.
Banerjee will hold a meeting at Kakdwip on Monday with the district administration to review relief and rehabilitation measures and is also planning to visit the cyclone-affected areas of Basirhat of North 24-Parganas on 13 November.
She cancelled her North Bengal trip that was scheduled to start from Monday. Meanwhile, Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar lauded the efforts of the CM, who monitored the situation and constantly communicated with the district administration.
“Adverse impact has been contained-thanks to Hon’ble CM leading from the front and there being synergy between State and Central agencies. Appeal to NGOs to particularly come forward and render rehabilitation assistance to the needy,” Dhankhar tweeted.
A total of 10 disaster relief teams ~ six from National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and four from State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) were engaged in rescue and relief operations. The district administration in North and South 24-Parganas used four drones of Kolkata Police to take stock of the damage.