15 dead, several injured as squall hits West Bengal

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Kolkata, April 18: At least 15 people were killed and 50 injured in West Bengal after a squall hit the city and adjourning areas. According to the police, seven people died in Kolkata, six in Howrah district and one each in Bankura and Hooghly districts, respectively. Among the seven casualties in the city, an autorickshaw driver and a woman died when a tree fell on th vehicle on Lenin Sarani in central Kolkata. Two other passengers of the autorickshaw succumbed to their injuries at a hospital late last night.
Four of six persons were electrocuted after they were struck by lightning in Bali and Belur areas of Howrah district. Another death was reported from Andul road when an electric pole fell on a person who was riding a two-wheeler. A death of a woman has been reported from Dumurjola area of Howrah district, the police said.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has instructed the chief secretary to look into the situation and prepare a report on the damage and deaths caused by the storm. Thunderstorms accompanied with gusty winds with a gale force of 98 km per hour and rainfall resulted in wall collapse, uprooting of trees and electrocution, the police said. The nor’wester uprooted 200 trees in 26 places of the city and disrupted traffic, it added.
Metro services were disrupted for over two hours in the evening on Tuesday. Eastern and South Eastern Railway sources said suburban train services in Sealdah and Howrah divisions were affected as overhead wires snapped during the storm. Departure and arrival of some flights, too, were delayed because of gusty wind.
Mobile and internet services were hit with the storm snapping overhead wires and damaging mobile towers. Two mobile towers in Uttarpara and Hindmotor of Hooghy district gave way, throwing vehicular traffic off-gear. The Kolkata Municipal Corporation pressed into service a disaster management team to clear the debris. The Indian Meteorological Department has predicted more rainfall in West Bengal. A thunderstorm accompanied with squall and hail is also expected. (PTI)