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Forester killed in 3-minute storm

- 200 injured as cyclone lashes tripura village

Agartala, April 30: A powerful storm lashed Kolkolia village under Bishalgarh subdivision of the newly created Sipahijala district around 8.30 this morning killing one person, injuring around 200 villagers and damaging more than 300 houses.

The victim has been identified as Rafiz Khan, 47, a forester. He died of his injuries at GB Hospital here.

Shortly after the news reached the capital, Deputy Speaker Bhanulal Saha, who represents the area in the Assembly, rushed to the village and assured the affected people of all possible help, including materials for reconstruction of damaged houses.

The Bishalgarh sub-divisional administration has given Rs 10,000 to each affected family for reconstruction of damaged houses. More relief has been promised after full assessment of the damage.

District magistrate (west) Kiran Gittye said, “It is tragic that we cannot take any preventive measures against such calamities, but we had put in place disaster management teams, which proved themselves this morning at Kolkolia.”

Speaking over phone about the sudden storm, Rizwanur Islam, a teacher of Koroimura Higher Secondary School, said around 8.25 this morning, the residents of Kolkolia village heard a roar from the northwest. The sky, too, was overcast, he said, adding, before anyone could take precautionary measures, the whirlwind struck, sending motorbikes and bicycles flying like toys in the wind, destroying houses, including buildings with tin roofs.

He said even before people could realise what had struck them, more than 200 villagers, who were out in the open, went either flying or fell flat under the impact of the strong wind, which blinded everyone with swirling dust and straw. “It lasted hardly three minutes and people scarcely had time even to cry out for help. The whirlwind flew off as suddenly as it had stormed in. It was only after the storm had subsided that we could realised the full extent of the damage,” he added.

Islam said forester Rafiz Khan, who was working on the small vegetable garden within his home compound, was hurled against a large mango tree by the whirlwind, injuring him seriously. “After the storm, we managed to send him to the Bishalgarh sub-divisional hospital where doctors advised his shifting to G.B. Hospital, Agartala. But he was pronounced dead after being taken there,” he said.

He added that more than 300 hutments and buildings with tin roofs had collapsed under the impact of the storm.

With today’s death, the number of people killed in storms and thunder squalls over the past four days has done up to three.