At least 21 persons were killed and more than one lakh people hit as a cyclone spawned by a deep depression in the Bay of Bengal pounded large parts of West Bengal and coastal Orissa today leaving a trail of devastation and crippling normal life in the two states.
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, told PTI tonight.
"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 two lakh.