Two killed, 11L evacuated as tornado hits West Bengal


KOLKATA: Two persons died in Pandua in West Bengal on Tuesday after being struck by lightning, which was accompanied by a “tornado”, that hit the town in the evening.

As many as 11 lakh people have been evacuated and given accommodation in flood shelters as well as in school and college buildings, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said on Tuesday.

Forty to fifty houses were damaged in the storm, which did not last long. The Chief Minister said a similar incident took place in Halisahar, where some houses were damaged. Mamata, who was talking to reporters regarding relief operations planned by the state government in view of cyclone “Yaas”, expected to make a landfall on the West Bengal-Odisha coast on Wednesday, said the “tornados” at Halisahar and Pandua were precursors to the cyclone “Yaas”.

Mamata will be staying in the control room set up at the state secretariat Nabanna and monitoring the situation. On Wednesday too, she would be at Nabanna.

The Chief Minister’s presence at the control room, even during late hours, is expected to ensure that officials entrusted with the relief work do not suffer from lack of motivation.

The “landfall” of the cyclone, categorised as “very severe cyclonic storm” would take place during the morning and noon on Wednesday, the Chief Minister said.

Three lakh people, including 74,000 state government officers and staff, 2 lakh police and Home Guards, members of defence forces and National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) personnel have been depluyed fpr relief operations.

The lessons learnt while dealing with cyclone “Amphan”, which had hit the state at around this time last year, was coming handy for the preparedness for “Yaas”, the Chief Minister said and added that 21 districts in the state would be affected by “Yaas”.

“Do not be afraid. Please relax. We will take care of everything. Please be safe and do wear a mask”, the Chief Minister said in an appeal to people.