Natural Disasters

Cyclone Gulaab: Heavy rain lashes West Bengal, 2 dead

Large swathes of land in Murshidabad, Nadia, Birbhum, Bankura and the coastal areas inundated

By Atonu Choudhurri
Published: Wednesday 29 September 2021

Cyclone Gulab caused landslides and free felling in Odisha, blocking national highways. Photo: Hrusikesh Mohanty

Cyclone Gulab, which struck Srikakulam in Andhra Pradesh on September 26, 2021, led to continuous, heavy rain and thunderstorms in south Bengal districts, including Kolkata. At least two people in the city died from its impact, according to reports.

The cyclone also wreaked havoc in Odisha, especially the southern districts, before moving towards Chhatisgarh. 

It weakened into a low-pressure system in the eastern state, causing gusty winds and around 72 millimetres rainfall from September 28 morning till around 8:30 am the following day in Kolkata, according to the India Meteorological Department’s (IMD) regional office in Alipore.

Low pressure over the central part of Gangetic West Bengal on Wednesday morning triggered rain and thunderstorms in over a dozen districts, IMD officials noted. 

Winds blowing at speeds as high as 50 kilometres per hour at 8.25 pm Tuesday dislodged billboards, tin roofs and sheds across the city. The wind speeds were higher in parts of South 24 Parganas and Midnapore districts.

A woman and a three-year-old child died after being stuck under the rubble of a building that collapsed in Ahiritola, a north Kolkata neighbourhood, on Wednesday. 

Souvik Sen, a south Kolkata resident, said:

Several areas in Kolkata are water-logged. Sewage from overflowing drains flowed into houses in suburban areas.

The south districts of the state were on red alert for very heavy rainfall on Tuesday and Wednesday. An orange alert was issued for North 24 Parganas, Bankura and Purulia, according to IMD officials. 

Over 35,000 people were evacuated from the low-lying areas in South 24-Parganas, one of West Bengal’s three coastal districts.

The government asked local administration in East Midnapore and North 24 Parganas to be on high alert and keep the relief shelters ready.

An IMD official in Kolkata said: 

A red alert was issued for east Midnapore, west Midnapore and South 24 Parganas on Tuesday. The same was sounded for west Midnapore and Jhargram on Wednesday. There is a high possibility of rainfall up to 200 mm. 

Various drainage pumping stations in Kolkata received between 17-35 mm rainfall. High tides in Hooghly river led authorities to close lock gates, through which stormwater is drained out of the city, for four hours on Wednesday morning. 

Mominpur received the highest rainfall (35 mm) in Kolkata. 

Over the last one week some districts received more than three times excess rain. Kolkata recorded the heaviest daily precipitation for September in 14 years last week.

Large swathes of land in Murshidabad, Nadia, Birbhum, Bankura and the coastal areas are inundated due to the heavy rainfall, according to disaster management department officials.

More than a dozen people were killed due to electrocution in water-logged areas across the states. Nearly 130,000 people had to be evacuated from two districts.

The Kolkata Police has kept 22 teams ready to provide assistance and emergency relief.

Remnants of Cyclone Gulab lay as a well-marked low-pressure area over south Gujarat region and the adjoining Gulf of Khambhat, according to IMD. “It is likely to intensify into a depression by the morning of September 30, 2021. 

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