Five killed and hundreds homeless as ‘mini tornado’ and sudden rain lash eastern India

‘Mini tornado’ and nor’wester leave a trail of destruction in West Bengal

Alisha Rahaman Sarkar
Monday 01 April 2024 12:35 BST
Related: Homes flattened as tornado rips through Ohio’s Logan County

At least five people were killed and over 300 others sustained injuries as sudden rainfall and strong winds lashed part of India's east.

Parts of West Bengal state's Jalpaiguri district were hit with a "mini tornado" and hailstorm on Sunday night, destroying houses, uprooting trees, and disrupting electricity supply.

The storm has left at least 200 people homeless in the district, located 613km from the state capital Kolkata. Videos circulating on social media purport to show a tornado passing through farmland.

"The storm came from nowhere and destroyed our homes. We don't know how and when we can rebuild it," Kajol Dutta, a resident of Jalpaiguri district, told PTI news agency.

Weather authorities said the "mini tornado" accompanied by a nor'wester wreaked havoc in the district in just five minutes. Nor'westers are tropical violent weather patterns that develop over the Bay of Bengal during summer.

"It generated an estimated wind speed of around 60-70kmph, though the speed inside the system must have been more,” said GK Das, director of the Regional Meteorological Centre.

"Nor'westers are often accompanied by such mini-tornadoes, which cause extensive destruction and loss of life. That seems to have happened in Jalpaiguri," he told The Times of India.

The weather continued to be rough in Jalpaiguri on Monday, with stormy winds blowing over parts of northern Bengal. The district is forecast to receive light to moderate rain with thunder, according to the Indian Meteorological Department.

India's federal National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has been pressed into action to help those affected in the disaster-struck areas.

West Bengal’s chief minister Mamata Banerjee visited the bereaved families of the five people killed in the storm on Sunday. “The administration shall stand by the needy people. We are aware of the damage that has happened. The biggest damage is the loss of lives," she said.

Prime minister Narendra Modi, in a post on X, offered his condolences and said he had urged officials "to ensure proper assistance to those impacted by the heavy rains".

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