The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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South to north: water, water everywhere
- Nine lives lost, alert still on

Oct. 7: Torrential rain in the past 24 hours rendered over 10 lakh people homeless and claimed nine lives across the state.

The chief minister, who was in Durgapur during the day, said: 'The situation in large swathes of south Bengal will worsen overnight when the Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC) discharges water from its barrages.

'I'm worried'.'

The government pressed the panic button early, with finance minister Asim Dasgupta calling off tomorrow's trip to Andhra Pradesh and relief minister Hafiz Alam Sairani deciding to rush to Murshidabad and Birbhum by evening.

'Over 10 lakh people have been affected but, by the time reports come out in newspapers, the number will be much more,' Dasgupta said.

Earlier, he went into a huddle with Sairani, chief secretary Asok Gupta and director-general of police Shyamal Dutta.

Two people were electrocuted in Bhagabanpur block of East Midnapore and two others were buried under the rubble of houses that collapsed in Birbhum's Dubrajpur and South 24-Parganas' Patharpratima. Two deaths were reported from Calcutta and one each from South Dinajpur, Hooghly and Nadia.

Laxmi Sikdar, 22, who was pregnant, died in a village near Chakdah town of Nadia this morning when her mud house caved in on her.

The worst affected districts were Murshidabad, North 24-Parganas, Birbhum and East Midnapore. Low-lying neighbourhoods of Calcutta and Howrah also bore the brunt.

In Jhaudanga and Duma of Gaighata block in North 24- Parganas, a tornado destroyed 75 houses. About 8 lakh people were affected in Murshidabad and North 24-Parganas alone.

There were unconfirmed reports of a tornado from Sagardighi, Murshidabad, the finance minister said.

A vast stretch of river embankment in South 24-Parganas is in precarious condition. The government has advised fishermen not to venture into the sea or any river.

Birbhum district recorded the maximum rainfall of 327 mm. In Malda, there was 281 mm of rain. An alert has been sounded for north Bengal, already experiencing high-speed wind.

An estimated 1.63 lakh tarpaulins and 3,000 tonnes of rice and wheat were distributed, apart from milk, clothes, medicine, drinking water and halogen tablets.

Standing crops were severely damaged in North 24-Parganas and Nadia.

The Alipore Met office said the low-pressure formation that was on Bankura early this morning is moving in a northeasterly direction.

There is an additional warning of high tide on October 14, which could worsen the situation in the Sunderbans.

Dasgupta did not want to equate the situation with the floods of 2000, but said: 'The warning is on.'

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