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Rain sucks homes dry

Calcutta, Oct. 7: The monsoon sprang a nasty farewell surprise on Bengal, claiming five lives and squeezing hundreds out of their homes in low-lying areas across Calcutta.

The season’s heaviest rainfall today — the official penultimate day of the monsoon in Calcutta — sent water gushing into several houses, forcing residents to spend the night with relatives and friends.

Some of the worst-affected areas were Dhakuria, Jadavpur, Golf Green, Tollygunge, Kasba, Picnic Garden, Gobra, Kalighat, Lake Town and Bangur Avenue. Parts of Salt Lake and Belgachhia were also waterlogged.

With the rain falling almost without a pause, the water level was rising at many places several hours after the initial burst.

In east Calcutta’s Gobra, 2,000 people were preparing themselves for evacuation if the situation worsened.

The Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) equipment meant to pump out water have gone out of order. Alerted about the precarious situation, the state relief department was standing by to set in motion contingency measures.

Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee described the damage in the state as “heavy”. “We are trying to organise relief as quickly as possible,” he said.

Many areas saw the worst inundation since the 1978 floods. With the weather office predicting more rainfall for the next two days, the situation could worsen, CMC officials conceded.

The rain might also force several multi-storeyed buildings in the city to go without water. Worried about possible water seepage into pump-sets used to suck CMC-supplied water to overhead tanks, residents scurried to have the sets wrenched from their bases.

The casualties were reported from East Midnapore, where three persons died, and Calcutta, where two were electrocuted.

In Calcutta, Niranjan Naskar, 40, a resident of Joynagar in South 24-Parganas, was killed in the evening while wading through knee-deep water at the AJC Bose Road and JL Nehru Road crossing. In the night, an unidentified person died in a similar manner near Minto Park.

Train services at Howrah Station were severely affected. In the Howrah-Burdwan section of Eastern Railway, trains were suspended on one line from 7.45 pm. Eastern Railway officials said 23 pairs of local trains had to be cancelled. Many long-distance trains were delayed.

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