120 dead, tens of thousands of homes damaged in Indian storm
By Ravi Matah
KOLKATA – At least 120 people were killed, hundreds were injured and thousands of homes destroyed when a storm powered by a winds gusting to 125 kilometres per hour spread destruction in West Bengal to Bangladesh.
The destruction was also heavy in Assam and in Bihar districts.
The 40-minute storm which produced tornadoes downed trees slowing the pace of aide.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev sent his condolences to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and offered help.
“Please accept my sincere condolences on behalf of all Russian people. If needed, we are ready to help our friends, the people of India, to overcome this disaster,” said Medvedev according to a bulletin issued by the Kremlin.
Bihar accounted for the highest number of fatalities with five districts reporting 77 dead.
In West Bengal, all 39 deaths were reported from in North Dinajpur district while in Assam four died in Dhubri district.
West Bengal civil defence minister Sreekumar Mukherjee said that tin and thatched roofs were wrenched off in villages lining both sides of the National Highway-34 in North Dinajpur.
The West Bengal government offered financial compensation to people whose relatives died in the storm.
West Bengal chief secretary Asok Mohan Chakraborty put the toll at 32. He said the central government in Delhi had offered help to the state government.
Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs 150,000 to next of kin of each of the deceased, and ordered a distribution of grain.
50,000 to 60,000 homes may have been damaged during the freak storm.