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Cloud relief for capital, not districts

Jan. 11: The mercury crept up by almost a degree in Calcutta to touch 10.7 degrees Celsius early this morning, bringing only notional relief as the temperature still remained two notches below normal. But the weather office raised hopes with a forecast that the cloud cover would remain, meaning that in the next couple of days, the cold spell is expected to abate in the capital.

However, there was little cheer in the districts, for a state relief department circular warned of the cold wave continuing in Gangetic West Bengal during the next 48 hours. Already, the cold spell has claimed 20 lives across the state over the past one week.

Seven deaths have been reported from Burdwan, which seems to have been hit worst. Five persons, including two infants, died of the cold in Murshidabad. Purulia and Malda have reported three deaths each, while two persons have succumbed to the biting cold in North 24-Parganas.

Three Delhi-bound flights were again held up as dense fog shrouded the Netaji Subhas Bose international airport this morning. They left an hour late.

In Burdwan, four persons died since Thursday night. Among them was Raj Kumar Shau, 34, a railway hawker, at Lakshmipur Math in Burdwan town. Shau, a cardiac patient, fell unconscious early this morning when he stepped out of his house to answer nature’s call. He died on the way to the local hospital.

An unidentified woman in her ’50s was found dead on platform number one at Burdwan railway station on Friday night. Jainal Shah, district GRP officer-in-charge, said she appeared to be a beggar. “She was not wearing any warm clothes and perhaps could not withstand the cold,” he said.

An adivasi labourer was also found dead on the Burdwan-Katwa road near Baje Pratappur the same night.

Mangala Devi, 65, a resident of Mehedibagan, had started shivering uncontrollably and vomiting in her house on Thursday night. A cardiac patient, Mangala was rushed to a nearby hospital, where doctors declared her “brought dead”.

Earlier, the bodies of three unidentified victims of the cold wave, mostly beggars, were recovered in the district — two at Asansol station and one on G.T. road in Durgapur. The minimum temperature in the district has remained at the 6-7 degrees Celsius mark for the past three days.

District magistrate Manoj Agarwal said he has alerted the panchayats and municipalities about the government’s warning and directed them to get in touch with the administration to meet any emergency situation.

Mishap deaths

Four persons, including a child, died in separate road accidents on Saturday. Kundan Lal, 40, who was on his way to the Gangasagar Mela, was crushed to death at the crossing of Surya Sen Street and Mahatma Gandhi Road late in the evening.

Hariprasad Sau, 45, died at Malipacnchghara in Howrah when he was hit by a truck around 9 pm.

Earlier in the evening, a child and his mother died when a private bus collided with a motorcycle at Gagan Kalatala in Howrah’s Amta area.

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