23 dead, 1 lakh affected as Cyclone Aila hits Bengal

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KOLKATA/BHUBANESHWAR: At least 23 people were killed and more than a lakh were hit as a cyclone spawned by a deep depression in the Bay of Bengal
pounded large parts of West Bengal and coastal Orissa leaving a trail of devastation and crippling normal life in the two states.

However, the good news from the Met department is that cyclone Aila has started gradually weakening.

In neighbouring Bangladesh which is in the path of the cyclone, thousands of people were shifted to makeshift emergency shelters along the southwestern coastlines which were lashed by tidal surges damaging nearly a dozen of flood control structures like dams, marooning thousands others.

The highest number of 14 deaths in West Bengal was reported from South 24 Parganas district, followed by five in Kolkata and one each in Bankura and Howrah districts

"The cyclone, now lying stationery 50 km west of Kolkata, hit West Bengal coast at 1:30 pm near Sagar Island. It is moving in a northerly direction and will weaken gradually, Regional Meteorological Centre Director G C Debnath, said.

"Rains, however, will continue throughout tomorrow," he said.

A severe storm with a windspeed of 110 kmph, accompanied by heavy rainfall, preceded the cyclone ripping through Kolkata, North and South 24 Parganas, Howrah, Hooghly, Burdwan and East Midnapore districts at 110 kmph.

Unofficial reports, however, put the toll at 26 and the number of affected at over 2 lakh.

Aila paralyses life in coastal Orissa

BHUBANESWAR: Cyclonic storm 'Aila' paralysed life in several parts of coastal Orissa triggering heavy rains and high-velocity wind today prompting government to gear up for relief work.

The storm crossed West Bengal coast close to Sagar Island and lay centred over Gangetic area near Diamong Harbour this evening, according to Cyclone Warning Centre here.

Initiating relief operation in affected areas, mainly Kendrapara district, Orissa government asked officials in the coastal districts to be stationed in their headquarters.

Incessant rains triggered by it submerged low-lying areas in coastal districts like Cuttack, Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara, Bhadrak and Balasore, official sources said, adding, no casualty was reported from any place due to the calamity.

Road traffic was thrown out of gear in many places as gale wind with speed as high as 80-90 kmph uprooted a large number of trees in Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara and Cuttack districts.

Life was paralysed in Satabhaya and Kanhupur villages in Kendrapara district, perenially prone to sea erosion, after tidal waves smashed into human settlements since yesterday, forcing residents to shift to safe places.

About 1,000 people of Kanhupur village have taken shelter in a local panchayat building while some of them moved to nearby villages, sources said.

Source: *timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Cyclone-Aila-claims-15-lives-thousands-stranded/articleshow/4575274.cms
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