A man wades through a waterlogged street; uprooted trees on James Long Sarani
KOLKATA: A day after a rampaging monster of a storm — the strongest in recent memory — raged over Kolkata for more than six hours, the city woke up to a macabre sight: 11 bodies floating on its inundated streets, throughout the length of the city.
Most of these 11 deaths — of citizens who had ventured out during Cyclone Amphan — were caused by live wires falling into waterlogged streets, electrocuting them instantly. Locals found an unidentified body in a ditch near Calcutta Club, and reported it with Bhowanipore police. The other bodies were reported from all around the metropolis — Beniapukur, Parnashree, Girish Park, Maniktala and Jorasanko. While some of them were found floating in pools of water and ditches, the others were found on wet footpaths.
A total of 15 people had died in Kolkata because of Cyclone Amphan, chief minister Mamata Banerjee said on Thursday, citing a report by Kolkata Police commissioner Anuj Sharma, in a preliminary review meeting at Nabanna. Four others died in Budge Budge, under the jurisdiction of the Parnashree police station.
“This kind of calamity is unheard of in the history of the city,” said KMC chairperson Firhad Hakim. “But, rest assured, we will work 24/7 to make sure Kolkata re-emerges from this catastrophe. We shall overcome.”
According to initial estimates by Kolkata Police and KMC, nearly 2,500 electrical lamp posts were uprooted by the monster storm, bringing down a mesh of overhead electrical wires directly in contact with water. A CESC official said each death would be investigated, in order to find out how and why it happened.
The bodies prompted the police and KMC squads to go slow in clearing the inundated stretches. “Because of the storm water all around, we had asked emergency workers not to risk their lives,” said a senior KMC official. Till late Thursday evening, there were several pockets in the city, in which emergency workers could not step in because of waterlogging. “In addition, there were loose wires hanging perilously in some stretches,” said the official. “There are stretches that are still inaccessible. We are treading cautiously.”
The body near Calcutta Club was in a construction ditch. It is normally guarded by corrugated sheets, which had blown away by the winds, leaving it exposed to the live wire, making it a death trap. The local police said they were trying to identify the victim. In another similar incident at Parnasree, Behala, a body was discovered in a pond, apparently also an electrocution victim. He was identified as Pintu Gayen, a resident of Bechu Chatterjee Street.
Two similar incidents were reported from Vivekananda Park and Muktaram Babu Street in Girish Park. Police said their details were not immediately known. Two more incidents were reported from Beniapukur’s Noor Ali Lane and Anzumman Road. The victims were identified as Md Tahid Alam and Golam Khalid. There were two more incidents from Maniktala and Jorasanko.
In another incident, a mother-and-son duo died in south Kolkata’s Regent Park after they tried to take shelter during the storm near a wall, which collapsed on them.