CYCLONE STORMS IN INDIA

A severe cyclone accompanied by heavy hailstorm that reaped through the Tinsukia district in the late afternoon yesterday claimed three lives, besides causing heavy damage to property. More than 40 villages under Kakopathar, Pengeree and Dhola police stations have faced the fury of the cyclone. At Majbari village of Kakopathar, a big tree fell over a nine-year-old girl, Rashmi Moran, who went to witness Gochtol Bihu, killing her instantly. In another incident, one Phuleswer Dohotia (25) of Dirak Mithong under Kakopathar PS received serious head injuries in the hailstorm. He later succumbed to his injuries at Assam Medical College Hospital, Dibrugarh. On the other hand, one Bindesweri Kurmi, a 55-year-old woman of Sonari Gaon, Dhola, is reported to have died when a big tree fell on her. There are reports of injuries to several other people in the areas affected by the cyclone. The cyclone played havoc in the entire areas destroying hundreds of residential houses, animal sheds, granaries, schools and other government buildings. There are reports of heavy losses of livestock and wild animals in the cyclone. The National Highways 37 and 52 have been blocked by uprooted trees for several hours. The power supply and telecommunication system have also been disrupted in the cyclone-affected areas of the district, which are yet to be fully repaired. The exact amount of losses in the cyclone is yet to be assessed.

Our Dibrugarh Staff Correspondent adds: One minor girl was killed and her mother sustained injuries as thunderstorm lashed several villages and tea gardens last night in Tinsukia and Dibrugarh districts. The three-year-old girl Jayshree Minj, daughter of Niren and Juri Minj of Laina tea estate, was injured when a tree branch fell on her. The mother of the child sustained injury while protecting her daughter. The minor girl later succumbed to her injuries at Assam Medical College and Hospital (AMCH). The storm destroyed hundreds of houses, demolished a hospital and a church, besides uprooting trees and disrupting power supply in the two districts. The storm accompanied by rains lasted for about 30 minutes, leaving a trail of destruction in most parts of the two districts with Doomdooma circle in Tinsukia being among the worst hit. A few names of affected villages and tea estates as gathered from several NGO workers are Talap, Dangri, Tezipathar, Katorbasti, Borali, Maithong, Laina, Khobang, Dhola, Haikhati, Ghutung Gaon, Kherbari, Samguri, Kakopathar, Dirak in Tinsukia district. In Laina tea estate alone, some 91 houses were demolished, its hospital roof blown away and a church pulled down. Road communication was severely disrupted in several areas with uprooted trees and electric poles blocking highways and other roads.

Government officials failed to give estimate of the total number of displaced people, affected villages and tea estates since the assessment was being carried out till the time of filing this report and none of the officials could be reached over phone. However, according to Seva Kendra, a Dibrugarh-based NGO whose workers visited the strom-ravaged areas in Tinsukia along with a worker of Carita India, said that around 3,000 people have been rendered homeless. Fr Elias Lugun, Director of Seva Kendra, told The Assam Tribune that most of the displaced people were being sheltered by neighbouring families whose houses were not affected. In some tea estates and villages, affected people constructed tents while a few have taken shelter in schools and churches. In Dibrugarh too, few houses were damaged in JP Nagar area in the city here and about 18 houses were destroyed in Basmatia tea estate, some 22 km from here. According to Rupankar Goswami, Manager of Basmatia TE, the tin roof of the fertilizer godown was completely damaged and the storm also uprooted several shade trees in the tea estate area. A huge tree was also uprooted near the residence of the Superintendent of Police here, causing blockade of the road for hours. Most parts of the district plunged into darkness since midnight yesterday and the powert supply has not been restored till the time of filing this report.

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