'Cyclone Aila' claims 35 lives in West Bengal, Kolkata limps back to normal

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Kolkata, May 26 (ANI): West Bengal capital Kolkata is limping back to normal a day after 'Cyclone Aila' brushed past it at a distance of 50 km.

The size of the cyclonic system was so large - with a maximum diameter of 250-350 km - that when the core crossed the coast, the city was already reeling from its impact with wind speeds of 120 kmph.

At least 35 people have been killed across the state, 15 of them in Kolkata and Howrah and 20 others in South Bengal districts. Over 1500 trees lie uprooted across the main thoroughfares in the city, several electric poles have keeled over, electricity, water supply and cable connections have been disrupted in several pockets across the metropolis.

Office goers, however, are making efforts to go to work even as the public transport system is crawling back to normalcy.

The main problem is the blocked roads. Uprooted trees are being cut and cleared at a snail's pace by corporation staff who have not responded adequately to the crisis. Only about 75 civic personnel have been at work since yesterday evening with just 26 axes, 30 machetes and just one gas cutter, trying to clear away the over 1000 uprooted trees.

The storm which started around 1.30 p.m. Monday and lasted till 8.30 p.m., with a couple of hours lull around 3 p.m., rendered Kolkata immobile. Roads were blocked, public transport collapsed, all to and fro flights were cancelled and even the dependable metro crashed.

The last cyclone, the Great Calcutta Cyclone, wrecked the city on October 5, 1864. About 60,000 people were killed then. By Ajitha Menon (ANI)

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