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City stalls in five-hr ‘record’ cloudburst

June 21: Rains flooded streets, threw traffic out of gear and brought trains to a halt as clouds, egged on by low pressure over coastal Bengal, today burst over the city for its heaviest downpour this monsoon.

The Calcutta Municipal Corporation claimed that since 1999, this afternoon’s rainfall was the heaviest in a span of five hours. Between 12.30 pm and 5.30 pm, the CMC said, 139.10 mm rainfall was recorded. In 1999, the figure was 300 mm in 24 hours.

But R.. Goldar, deputy director-general of the Alipore weather office, said 70 mm rainfall was recorded at Alipore between 8.30 am and 5.30 pm. He said the weather condition would persist for a while as the monsoon, which arrived on June 18, is active in south Bengal. “There are chances of heavy rainfall in some areas tomorrow as well.”

In Kalighat, the CMC recorded 139.10 mm of rainfall. Thanthania in north Calcutta recorded 100 mm during the five-hour period.

Member, mayor-in-council (drainage) of the CMC, Mala Roy, said all the pumps were working at 18 pumping stations across the city and the accumulated water will be pumped out by 9 tonight. “We are prepared to face a similar situation for another 12 hours as the weather office has predicted more rain…. We have instructed all our pumping stations to work day and night,” she added.

A portion of a house on Shitalatala Lane in the Narkeldanga police station area collapsed. The fire brigade had to be called in to rescue Parul Das, a 65-year-old woman trapped inside.

The rains not only hit road traffic; train services were also disrupted. Several long-distance trains like the Shaktipunj Express and Kamrup Express could not leave Howrah till late in the evening. The Howrah-New Delhi Rajdhani Express via Gaya left the station at 10.45 pm, an Eastern Railway spokesperson said. Railway officials said the heavy shower caused track-circuit failure.

Several trains in the South-Eastern Railway division like the Puri Express and Mumbai Mail got delayed. In Sealdah, trains in the south section were running late following technical problems. The rain also affected the Circular Rail, while the Tollygunj yard of Metro Rail was flooded. However, metro services were not disrupted.

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