Cyclone Remal ravages parts of West Bengal; heavy rains continue to batter region

'Remal' caused widespread damage, blowing off hut roofs, uprooting trees, and knocking down electric poles, leading to disruptions across the state, including Kolkata.


Published May 27, 2024 | 11:14 AM Updated May 27, 2024 | 11:14 AM

Cyclone Remal ravages parts of West Bengal; heavy rains continue to batter region

Widespread devastation is visible across coastal areas of West Bengal on Monday, a day after the severe cyclonic storm, ‘Remal’, made landfall, packing winds up to 135 kilometres per hour.

The cyclone ravaged adjacent coasts of the state and Bangladesh between Sagar Island and Khepupara, near the southwest of Mongla in the neighbouring country, after its landfall process began at 8.30 pm on Sunday, causing extensive damage to infrastructure and property.

‘Remal’ left a trail of destruction in its wake. Roofs of thatched huts were blown away, trees uprooted and electric poles knocked down, causing significant disruption in various parts of the state, including Kolkata.

Waterlogging has been reported in several areas, compounding the misery of the affected residents. The storm brought with it heavy rains, which continued into Monday morning, flooding homes and farmlands.

In the Gosaba area of the Sundarbans, one person was injured after being hit by debris. In Kolkata’s Bibir Bagan area, a person was hurt when a wall collapsed in the relentless downpour.

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Extensive damage as cyclone intensifies

The West Bengal government evacuated over one lakh people from vulnerable areas ahead of the cyclone’s landfall. This effort was focused primarily in the South 24 Parganas district, including Sagar Island, Sundarbans and Kakdwip.

While the move certainly saved lives, damage to property remains extensive. The North and South 24 Parganas and East Midnapore districts reported widespread damage.

News footage from the coastal resort town of Digha showed tidal waves crashing into a seawall, with surging waters sweeping fishing boats inland and inundating mud-and-thatch houses and farmlands.

The cyclone caused rainfall and winds in areas such as Digha, Kakdwip and Jaynagar, which intensified on Monday.

Efforts to restore normalcy are underway, with emergency services working tirelessly to clear debris and restore power in affected areas. However, the continuous heavy rains are hampering these operations.

The full extent of the damage is still being assessed, but initial reports suggest that it will take considerable time and effort to recover from this devastating natural disaster.

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Relief measures underway

The state government has initiated relief measures, providing food, drinking water and medical assistance to the affected population. Authorities are urging residents to remain indoors and take necessary precautions as the heavy rains persist.

Districts in the southern part of the state recorded light to moderate rainfall in the 24 hours till 5.30 pm on Sunday, with Sagar Island in South 24 Parganas receiving 68.4 mm downpour and Kanthi in Purba Medinipur district 58 mm.

Fourteen National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams were deployed across districts in south Bengal, including Kolkata, North and South 24 Parganas, Purba and Paschim Medinipur, Howrah and Hooghly.

The state government has readied SDRF teams. Relief materials and quick response teams were in place, according to officials.

Relief materials, including dry food and tarpaulins, have been dispatched to coastal areas, and quick response teams comprising trained civil defence volunteers and equipped vehicles are in place.

The cyclone has led to significant disruptions in air, rail and road transportation in Kolkata and other parts of southern Bengal. The Eastern and the South Eastern Railways cancelled some trains for Sunday and Monday.

The Kolkata airport suspended flight operations for 21 hours from Sunday noon, affecting 394 flights in both international and domestic sectors.

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