Scorcher smothers Bengal, two dead
Bankura/Santiniketan: Two labourers died on Tuesday of suspected heat stroke in Bankura as south Bengal wilted under a stifling scorcher with little chance of respite before Thursday.
Tarapada Majhi, 40, lost consciousness while working under NREGA, the 100-day rural job scheme, to repair a canal in Bankura's Taldangra. The maximum temperature in Bankura town on Tuesday was 41.8 degrees Celsius.
A physician at the Taldangra hospital put Majhi's death down to cardiovascular failure but did not rule out the possibility of a heat stroke having caused it. "We cannot rule out heat stroke as it is extremely hot," said the physician.
Around 80km from Taldangra, in Bankura's Tiluri, 30-year-old Gopal Bauri collapsed while dredging a well. Bauri, too, was declared dead on arrival with doctors saying heat stroke could be a possible cause.
Besides Bankura, the mercury rose above 40 degrees Celsius in Purulia, Birbhum, East and West Burdwan.
Met officials attributed the weather conditions to weak south-westerly winds, resulting in negligible entry of moisture-laden flows from the Bay of Bengal that would have aided cloud formation and rain.
Sanjib Bandyopadhyay, deputy director-general of the Regional Meteorological Centre in Calcutta, said: "The chances of respite will increase from Thursday in the form of isolated thundershowers. However, heavy rainfall will not take place before next week when the monsoon flow is expected to pick up," said Bandyopadhyay.
#If health worries shot up in the heat, so did concerns about footfalls in tourist hubs Santiniketan and Tarapith.
Officials of Rabindra Bhavana - where the museum housing Rabindranath Tagore's memorabilia is located in Santiniketan - reported only 5 per cent of the usual tourists in the past two days.
"Around six to eight thousand tourists visit Rabindra Bhavana on working days. The figure crosses 10,000 on holidays. But because of the weather, the number has come down to 600-1,000," said Nilanjan Banerjee, special officer of the Bhavana.
Sources in pilgrim town Tarapith said only 400 visited the temple on Tuesday against the usual daily count of over 5,000. "Hotels have hardly had any customers since Monday. Many people have cancelled their bookings citing the heat," said Sunil Giri, president of the Tarapith Hotel Owners' Association.
Birbhum officials have urged people over loudspeakers and other public address systems not to venture out during the hottest parts of the day and keep themselves adequately hydrated by drinking enough water.
"We have urged private schools to declare a vacation," said Purulia district magistrate Alokesh Prasad Roy.
Birbhum DM Moumita Godara Basu said she had issued similar instructions.