Spirited Kolkata picks up the items, bounces again to life

KOLKATA: Grief enveloped several families who lost their dear ones in Tuesday’s double squall, but the rest of the city was back on its feet barely 12 hours after the devastation.
The Kolkata Municipal Corporation () and Kolkata Police swung into action with multiple teams — comprising more than 300 personnel — to remove debris from the streets almost immediately after the storm. Several thoroughfares still bore signs of the destruction but, by and large, the work on a war-footing helped clear the way as Kolkata went back to school, college and work normally on Wednesday morning. The death toll in Kolkata reached six, while six were killed in Howrah and one in North 24 Parganas.

Civic workers used hydraulic ladders and electric saws to remove 51trees that had been blocking traffic in a span of just two–three hours. By noon, most of the obstructions were cleared. However, traffic disruption continued at seven points as some of the uprooted trees and at least four lampposts could not be removed. But they could hardly prevent the city from getting back into action. Most offices, schools and colleges had healthy attendance even as the city remained cloudy and it drizzled in some parts on Wednesday. In several areas, locals joined hands with the police and civic workers to remove uprooted trees.

Sector V employee Bijoyini Ghosh Pal had returned home a little before midnight on Tuesday. On Wednesday morning, she left her Behala home at 8am and was in office by 9.15am. “I had expected a few disruptions along the way and left home earlier than usual. But I was pleasantly surprised to find that the roads were clear,” she said.

Eleven houses were partially damaged by the squall, according to KMC. But none suffered irreparable damage and wouldn’t have to be demolished. Nearly 10,000 houses — mostly on the northern fringes of Kolkata — remained without power on Wednesday as overhead wires snapped. Lakhs of homes went without satellite channels as wires remained disconnected. Internet services remained disrupted in Sector V, but it was still a normal working day in the IT hub.

In Howrah, the storm claimed six lives while one died in Hooghly’s Haripal. Five of the victims in Howrah were electrocuted while two were killed — one each in Dumurjala and Haripal — when trees fell on them. Among the dead was Class X sudent Kushi Muriya, 16, who was returning home from tuition and was barely 100m from her home at Belur’s Jangi Singh Lane. A lamppost fell a few feet away from her and electrocuted the girl. Cousins and Satyajit Das died in different places. While was electrocuted near Belur Math, Satyajit was electrocuted at Liluah Chowkpara. Both were returning home to Belur’s Tarachand Ganguly Street.

In Dumurjala, 23-year-old Moon Moon Das was cycling home when a tree fell on her head just as she was passing by Dumurjala stadium. Joydeb Das, 32, a garment trader, was electrocuted when an overhead live wire fell on him when a tree snapped it at . The motorcycle he was riding caught fire.

Howrah mayor Rathin Chakraborty said, “Some 130 trees fell across Howrah town during Tuesday night’s storm. The disaster management team of (HMC), along with staff, removed wires that had snapped in the storm. Power supply was shut down for short durations across the town while this operation was on.”

In rural Howrah, some 600 trees fell and over 160 houses, particularly mud houses, were damaged.

In Hooghly’s Haripal, 15-year-old Tuli Mukherjee died when a tree fell on her while she was returning home after attending a Kali puja.

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