Heavy Rain Lashes Bengal, 47 Dead


Kolkata: Heavy rains triggered by the cyclone Komen crippled normal life in West Bengal so far claiming 47 lives. A girl was swept away by water current in Murshidabdfidtrict, while a woman died in a house collapse in Howrah on Saturday.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had on Friday evening put the death count at 39 but relentless widespread rain on Saturday led to at least eight fatalities in the districtsThe worst affected areas are Kandi in Murshidabad, Panskura in East Midnapore, Arambag in Hooghly, Udaynarayanpur in Howrah and Habra in North 24 Parganas.

In Murshidabad`s Andulia, a girl was carried away by a strong current and in Howrah`s Panchla, rains triggered the collapse of a mud house leading to the death of a woman and injuring her husband. In Nadia, four deaths were reported by district administration officials while West Midnapore witnessed at least two fatalities.

Nearly two lakh houses have been damaged while over a lakh residents are in relief camps due to the incessant-rain triggered flood-like situation in the state, Banerjee said on Saturday. The nagging rains are due to a deep depression over Bay of Bengal caused by Komen.

"As many as 1.8 lakh houses have been damaged and 12 districts are affected due to the flood-like situation. 966 relief camps are sheltering 1.19 lakh people across the state," Banerjee said at the state secretariat `Nabanna` in Howrah.

Crops spread over 2.10 lakh hectares of farmland were destroyed in the rain-hit districts, she added.

The chief minister took stock of the situation in Howrah`s Udaynarayanpur during the day and asserted her government would aid in relief of the affected people with its own resources as she was not expecting much help from the central government.

Stretches in Burdwan, Birbhum, Hooghly, North 24 Parganas and South 24 Parganas districts are still submerged, and seven lakh people affected.

In Ghatal in West Midnapore, boats were pressed into service.

Several parts of Kolkata were waterlogged. The Met Office recorded 117.4 mm of rainfall till 8.30 am on Saturday. It has forecast "heavy to very heavy rainfall" in a few places in Gangetic West Bengal (south Bengal) in the next 24 to 48 hours.

While South Eastern Railway (SER) cancelled 19 suburban trains, the Eastern Railway was forced to cancel one. Several trains ran behind schedule.

Slum-dwellers near Kankurgachi and Ultadanga in east Kolkata battled the inclement weather with layers of tarpaulin sheets and plastics woven around their huts but the inundation has left them in dire straits.

Water-logging also forced members of many families residing on the ground floor in duplexes to move up to the upper storeys.

The water level of the Ganga stood at a high of 6.64 m at around 1.41 pm on Saturday during high tide, said a River Traffic Police official, adding heavy rains had added to the swelling.

The Kolkata Municipal Corporation has pressed into service over 300 pumps from its permanent pumping stations in different parts of the city in addition to 360 more portable pumps to drain out the water.


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