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Rain and sea waves lash Digha coast - 100 coastal villages flooded in East Midnapore, thousands homeless

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By OUR CORRESPONDENT
  • Published 9.10.10
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Tamluk, Oct. 8: Incessant rain and high tide with 8-metre tall waves have flooded over 100 coastal villages in East Midnapore, including Digha, affecting nearly 10,000 people and rendering thousands homeless.

Over 500 mud huts have collapsed since last night, rendering over 2,000 people homeless. The villagers have been shifted to relief camps set up by panchayats in Shankarpur, Deshpran, Tajpur, Khejuri and Kendamari in Nandigram. The Ganga has its confluence with the Bay of Bengal in Khejuri and Kendamari.

District relief officer Sandip Nag said Digha alone had received 53mm of rain between 10am yesterday and 10am today.

Met officials said the depression crossed the Bengal-Bangladesh coast, 100km east of Calcutta, around 11.30am today. “The depression had made the sea turbulent,” a Met official said.

The officials said the sea was rough and fishermen had been asked not to venture into the high sea. Normally, during high tides, sea waves rise to a height of around 4 metres in Digha, they added.

Ratikanta Jana, 50, a fisherman from the coastal village of Tajpur, about 10km from Digha, said the sea began to swell around 8pm yesterday.

“There was chest-deep water in most parts of the village by 11pm yesterday. The winds were so strong that my hut collapsed in front of my eyes. This morning, we took shelter at a relief camp set up at a primary school in our village,” Ratikanta said. Around 500 people from our village and neighbouring areas have taken shelter at the camp, he added.

In Digha town, eight-metre high sea waves last night washed away 30 shops near the coast selling cashew nuts and artefacts made from sea shells and conch shells. Some eateries and garment stores were also washed away.

“We tried our best to save our wares but lost most of it,” Netai Jana, 35, a shop owner said.

Yesterday, there were around 5,000 tourists in Digha. Today being a weekend, the tourist count crossed 8,000. Many tourists lined the coast to catch a glimpse of the crashing waves.

Digha police patrolled the coast through the day and requested tourists not to go near the water. “Eight tourists suffered minor injuries after falling on boulders, hit by waves,” said Kaushik Basak, the officer in charge of Digha police station.

Irrigation department officials said 50km of East Midnapore’s 78km coastline had been lying unrepaired for over five years. A 4km-long breach had occurred at Shankarpur two years ago but it was yet to be plugged, the officials said.

“As a result, the sea easily flooded the villages. Ten villages, including Shankarpur, Tajpur, Chandpur, Lachhimpur, Jamra-Shyampur, Jalda and Shaula, are the worst-affected,” said Swapan Pandit, an executive engineer of the irrigation department.

A senior district health official said a team of doctors would be sent to the relief camps to examine the health of those who have taken shelter.

The sabhadhipati of the Trinamul Congress-run zilla parishad, Ranajit Mondal, said crops across 10,000 hectares had been damaged.