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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Aila, the fiercest storm to hit the state capital in 20 years.

THE CYCLONIC STORM that gathered over Bay of Bengal Sunday night crashed into Kolkata and south Bengal districts Monday as Aila, the fiercest storm to hit the state capital in 20 years.

ATLEAST 23 PEOPLEwere confirmed dead and over 150,000 were homeless by late evening as Aila cut through South and North 24-Parganas, Howrah and Bankura districts. Five people were killed in Kolkata.

20 FLIGHTS were diverted, and scores of trains delayed or cancelled.

Suburban and Metro services in Kolkata stopped after tracks were flooded.

THE WORST IS OVER, the Met announced late in the afternoon, as the eye of the weakening storm settled 50 km south-southwest of Kolkata, and seemed to be inching north towards Howrah and East MidnaporeAA DEEP depression on the Bay of Bengal in tensified into a severe cyclonic storm and slammed into the coastal belt of West Bengal on Monday, killing at least 23 people and rendering over 150,000 homeless. Cyclone Alia, with wind speed of about 100 km per hour, uprooted trees, disrupted power supply and brought the city of Kolkata to a grinding halt. Officials described it as the fiercest storm to hit the city in 20 years.

Five people died in Kolkata, 14 in South 24 Parganas district, three in Howrah and one in Bankura district. More than 100 river embankments in South 24 Parganas district and North 24 Parganas district were breached by high tides causing inundation of large tracts of land. The Army was alerted in Kolkata but not deployed till late in the evening. The state Government said the Air Force had been asked to carry out air-dropping operations in some parts of South 24 Par ganas where people in some isolated pockets got marooned.

In Kolkata, it was darkness at noon, when the cyclone made landfall near Sagar Island, about 80 km from the city in South 24 Parganas. The wind speed rose to about 90 km and was accompanied by heavy rains. By 2 pm, more than 120 trees that got uprooted, blocking roads and even the Metro services. As many 20 flights to Kolkata were diverted.

Around 2.30 pm, the police urged people to get back to their homes and asked schools to close for the day as the eye of the cyclone was heading towards the city. A few hours later, the Alipore Weather office announced that the eye of the storm had shifted.

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