| Motorcycle riders brave the rain and (below) coconut trees sway in the strong wind in Bhubaneswar on Friday. Telegraph pictures |
Bhubaneswar/Cuttack, April 13: A girl was killed today after being struck by lightning in Jagatpur, Cuttack, as heavy rain accompanied by thunder squalls lashed several parts of the state this afternoon. The rain, which was triggered by a norwester, caused large-scale damage.
So severe was the impact of the winds — raging at a speed of 80 to 90km per hour — that the pennant of the Lord Jagannath temple in Puri was blown away. Though it was put back in place after the rain subsided, the incident triggered misgivings among devotees as it is considered a bad omen.
“We were all jittery after we heard about it. Such an event, that too during the Odia New Year, is considered inauspicious,” said Hemalata Panda, a homemaker in the temple town.
Bhimsen Mangaraj, deputy administrator (rituals) of the temple, tried to pacify the people through a message to a local TV news channel. “There is absolutely no reason to panic. No harm has been caused to the temple and we have replaced the pennant,” he said. Several coconut trees were also uprooted in the town, which recorded 30mm rain.
The weatherman has forecasted more rain in the next 48 hours. “Thunder squalls accompanied by hail and strong surface wind reaching 60 to 70km per hour may occur at one or two places in the state over the next two days,” said director of the met department-Bhubaneswar S.K. Sahoo.
The girl killed in Jagatpur was identified as Mita Das, 22, a local resident of Imam Nagar. In a separate incident at the same place, lightning struck two trucks parked on the roadside. A mobile tower was damaged and incidents of electricity poles being uprooted were reported from several parts of the state.
Earlier in the day, Cuttack recorded a maximum temperature of 36.1°C. Though the rain brought the temperature down, power was disrupted in several parts of the city plunging many areas into darkness for over an hour.
In Bhadrak, nearly 50 households were affected by the storm. A tidal surge forced the evacuation of people in coastal areas by the local police.
The capital recorded 38.1°C today and received 2.6mm of rainfall. The brief spell brought a welcome respite from the sultry weather. People on the streets were seen scurrying for cover as the skies opened up. Some others were spotted enjoying getting soaked in the rain.
Traffic was not affected much because of the rain, as it was a government holiday and vehicular movement was relatively low on the roads. Airport officials said there was no disruption in the flight schedule today.