Jalpaiguri: Hailstorms and thundershowers in North Bengal claimed the life of a boy and caused extensive damage to crops amid forecasts of such weather in much of the state till Sunday.
Met sources said thunder squalls with wind speeds up to 65km kmph accompanied by hail was likely to occur in sub-Himalayan Bengal and Gangetic Bengal, including Calcutta. On Friday morning, Tapu Roy, 11, was in a potato field when he as struck by lightning in Alipurduar district’s Falakata.
After the hailstorm and rain, officials have rushed to the affected areas to distribute relief and take stock of the situation. The agriculture department is assessing the damage. In Jalpaiguri district, crops, mostly vegetables, were uprooted in the Sadar and Dhupguri blocks. “A number of hutments and vegetables on several acres have got damaged due to the hailstorm that continued for around 30 minutes. We have made necessary arrangements for relief,” said Tapashi Saha, the BDO of Sadar block.
The storm started in Jalpaiguri district around 6.30am on Friday and swept through areas like Manikganj, Satkura, Burirjote, Gourangabazar, Naljawapara. Most fields turned white, covered in hailstones.
“Most vegetables were ready for harvest but the hailstorm has damaged the crops” Badal Roy, a farmer in Burirjote said. Sources said in the Sadar block, crops over 300 hectares had suffered. Storms also lashed Chopra in North Dinajpur. In the hills, Sandakphu in Darjeeling experienced snowfall. Siliguri and its vicinity saw intermittent showers.
Crops were also hit in Cooch Behar. “Crops like corn and tobacco were damaged. Our officers are making an assessment of the loss,” said Kaushik Saha, DM, Cooch Behar.
In Calcutta, regional Met Director G.K. Das said squalls would occur in more areas over the weekend. “Thundersqualls are likely to prevail over the districts of Bankura, Birbhum, East and West Bardhman, Murshidabad, Nadia, Jhargram, Purulia, East and West Midnapore, Howrah, Hooghly, Calcutta and North and South 24-Parganas of south Bengal on Saturday and Sunday,” regional Met director G.K. Das said.